IN CONVERSATION WITH…
A company with a
forward-IN CONVERSATION WITH…
Eddie Stanton, divisional director - flat roofing division at Avonside Group, sat down with RCI to discuss how the
company invests in its people and delivers best in class roofing at the point of delivery
Since Avonside Group’s
formation, how has the
company changed over that
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
Expansion and acquisition
have played a huge part in
Avonside’s success. Can you
tell me about this?
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 businesses into the Group
on a long-term basis.
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?
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.
Are there plans to extend
Avonside Group’s branch
network in the future?
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 our branch network
over the next three to five years – so
watch this space!
Is there anything else you
would like to add?
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?
issue, I think
we have to sell
than a job”
22 www.rcimag.co.uk January 2019