Our Flat Roofing Divisional Director, Eddie Stanton (pictured below) was recently interviewed by RCI Magazine's editor, Nichola Farrugia. It was a wide-ranging discussion which was published in the January issue of RCI Magazine. Take a look at what he had to say about how Avonside invests in our people and delivers first class roofing at the point of delivery...
Q: Since Avonside Group's formation, how has the company changed over that time?
A: Avonside Group has grown significantly since it was formed in 1987. The expansion has been driven by the fact that the management team has had clear goals based around strong financial performance and client delivery.
We're able to stay close to the market and its developments, as we understand the competitive pressures and the need to respond and add value to the business. Due to our size, we're able to plan medium to long-term - more so than we did in the early days.
In September 2003, Avonside was the subject of a management buyout, and since then, the business has undergone a strategic programme of restructuring, training and investment. This has been achieved by having a clear vision about how to take the company forward, identifying who our customer profile should be, and focusing on our operational delivery. Avonside believes in ensuring that it gets the performance right on-site, as it's a strong platform for repeat business.
Q: Expansion and acquisition have played a huge part in Avonside's success. Can you tell me about this?
A: We look for profitable companies that have strong management teams in place who will stay with the business. It's crucial that the companies we acquire fit in with our network model, and that's why we look for companies who have the same values as us, and who can add value to our business. What we don't want is to buy a business and for it to stand still. We want to grow the businesses we acquire. It's also important that we bring the staff who worked in the business into the Group on a long-term basis.
Q: Skills shortages and the route for youngsters into construction (in particular, roofing) is a real issue at the moment. What do you believe needs to be done to attract more people into the sector?
A: New lifeblood into the industry is the biggest issue we face as a sector as a whole, rather than what we face as a business.
At Avonside we are a strong advocate for placing young people in apprenticeships, and last year alone, we recruited 50 apprentices, as we believe in bringing the best quality of people into our business.
To help tackle the skills shortage issue, I think we (individual companies and industry representatives) need to go into schools and speak directly to students about promoting the opportunities and routes to progression that are available within the roofing sector. Ultimately, I think we have to sell youngsters a career, rather than a job.
Q: Are there plans to extend Avonside Group's branch network in the future?
A: As a company we are extremely ambitious and want to grow the Avonside business both organically and also through acquisition. We carry out a lot of market analysis to identify which areas are most suitable. We will be looking to extend out branch network over the next three to five years - so watch this space!
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
A: Nobody really understands what the implications of Brexit will be, but in preparation, we have to think about how we are going to future-proof our business and get ourselves to a position whereby we can weather any storms that may come our way.
Whilst we are a leader in the roofing sector, we are a big believer in cooperation in terms of the health of the sector. We actively seek to collaborate with our competitors to drive and improve standards. For example, how do we bring new entrants into the sector, how do we drive standards in the right way; and how can we be more effective as a sector?