The view from the top…
Twelve years ago I had reached a period in my life when I wanted to make a real difference for my family. A joiner by trade with significant management experience under my belt, I was exposed to the highs and lows of the construction industry. After a number of visits to self build projects where timber was being used as the main construction method it was clear that the sector was just not cutting it. Customers were unhappy with service levels and the quality of some of the structures presented real cause for concern.
So I decided to start a timber frame company built on an ethos of listening to customers’ needs and exceeding promises. All I needed was a factory, staff, suppliers, customers and a very understanding wife to support me. One out of five wasn’t bad, so with Louise’s backing I signed the lease on my first factory in 2006. We didn’t have any customers, staff or suppliers. All we had was a commitment to do things right.
To ensure all site works were carried out correctly, my dad came out of retirement and joined the company from inception. An experienced joiner and builder he was instrumental in getting Oakworth off the ground and to this day remains an invaluable asset to the company.
During our first year we advertised in magazines and attended the self-build shows. It was great to meet customers and even better that they liked what Oakworth had to offer. The order book soon started to fill up. With a supply chain and a team in place everything was going well for the company and our customers. And then in 2007 the financial crisis hit. It really did feel like someone had turned the tap off. The phone hardly rang and start dates for projects slipped further and further back. Nevertheless, we still had commitments to fulfil; our customers needed us and we delivered on the projects we did have and the company continued to grow, despite the difficult climate.
In 2009 we relocated to a much larger factory on Orgreave Close and the business continued to make solid progress. A real turning point came in 2011 when we started working with Benchmark Selfbuild to offer customers an architectural design service to complement the timber engineering business. A year later and customers were able to get a real feel for their potential dream home when we erected a Benchmark designed timber frame house inside the NEC at the National Homebuilding and Renovating Show. I don’t think many people believed we could get that not-so-little project off the ground – but we did (see the photo at the top of the page).
We are a family business with a great reputation and an unwavering appetite to ‘do it right’. Whether we are providing bespoke self-build homes or high volume timber frames for apartment blocks, our team of passionate industry professionals work hard to deliver every project to Oakworth’s exacting standards.
I’m proud of what the team has achieved over the last twelve years. As we say to our self-build clients, there will always be a few twists and turns to navigate before you get to the happy ending – but stay true to your values, surround yourself with people you can trust and don’t give up. We look forward to sharing your story.
MD, Oakworth Group