Positive stories about the construction trade have been few and far between in recent years – but one Doncaster firm is bucking the trend and achieving success by taking the market into the future.
Brickhunter started as a one man operation eight years ago and now has a £3 million turnover and employs 15 people, with plans to double its workforce next year.
So what’s the secret?
“Ultimately I’m just a simple brick seller running my own business,” owner Kevin Severn, 36, said. “We’ve had to move with the times and that’s what we’ve done.”
Mr Severn has been in the business, starting at Spinks Builders in Kelham Street as a school leaver..
“I was an employee for a fair old while,” he said. “But when I saw a gap in the market I just went for it.
“The first few years were pretty tough as the construction industry was having a pretty bad time of it but, with a little bit of help from the bank, we got through it.”
Mr Severn took on his first employee in 2008 and then had the idea that has ensured the firm’s success.
“We had to build a large software system to enable us to do what we do,” he said. “But once that was up and running we got into a period where we’ve had a pretty good few years.”
Mr Severn’s bright idea is a inspired by the Late Rooms hotel philosophy and sees builders merchants across the UK can accessing his stock and fill orders instantly, which Brickhunter then supplies.
“Any merchant can link into our system and order from our stock.” he explained. “It’s been a bit of an innovation for the industry – I think it’s fair to say that construction has been pretty slow to take advantage of the new technology available.
“So far it has generated £8,152,000 worth of business for our builder’s merchants.”
And it has been this new approach that has lead to Brickhunter’s rapid expansion.
Mr Severn added: “The technology is where the new jobs are. Things are looking pretty good. We’ve had a 200 per cent increase in business over the last two years.”
But, though Brickhunter’s success has been built on hi-tech, there’s one thing that doesn’t fit with the 21st century image – it’s base. The company is based in a converted shed in Hatfield.