Meet John Sayers from Hodgson Sayers as published in the Northern Echo yesterday (8th July).
John Sayers started his career as an apprentice roofer but now 30 years on he leads a dynamic construction business with an eye on the future, a new office in the Midlands and a cabinet full of awards, including the British Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year Award 2015.
Hodgson Sayers, a committed North East of England Chamber member, is based in based Tanfield Lea, not far from where he grew up and still lives.
He said: “The early part of my career gave me invaluable experience as I was able to build up a vast array of knowledge through working as a roofing sub-contractor for my father’s construction business in Newcastle. I worked all over the country on a variety of projects, gaining valuable knowledge on a range of trades along the way.
“After a few years the time was right to develop my managerial skills, so I joined Billy Hodgson’s roofing company in 1993. After a series of promotions I was appointed MD and was very proud to get my name above the door.”
In the early days of Hodgson Sayers the company’s clients were primarily High Street banks and prestigious universities up and down the country. The competitive advantage of the business was, John Sayers believes, that they had the cultural DNA to create a blend of the highest quality with the best customer service
He said: “We always made sure we understood the wider building envelope as the roof may not be the most visible part of a building but, make no mistake, it is imperative any work done has synergy with the rest of the structure. This could be anything from complying with listed building status to designing features to protect the building fabric
The construction sector can sometimes get a bad press, something of which John Sayers is very much aware.
He said: “It is always our mission to provide the very best tradesmen possible for our work. There is quite a bit of baggage associated with being in the construction sector, people share scare stories about rogue traders and so on. This background spurs everyone in Hodgson Sayers to do every job to the highest possible standard. We always aim to over-deliver.”
Staff retention is very much part of this strategy to excel, with some members of his team such as Billy Wilson, having over 30 years of service, right from being an apprentice. There is also a deliberate commitment to growing talent in-house. The success of this approach is clear to see with Kieran Foster winning Apprentice of the Year and Jordan Condren and Dave Crank, coming second and third respectively in different sections of the same national competition. Apprentices make up 10 per cent of the workforce which currently stands at 100.
Ambitious plans for expansion are on track with the business getting on to Efficiency East Midlands Framework and, as a result, an office being set up in Nottingham. This supports work all over the country as well as the Midlands.
Turnover for the coming year is set to be £12m with 20% due to come from the Nottingham office.
John Sayers said: “We are constantly adapting to new technologies like Building Information Modelling and identifying ways where we can work more closely together on a project in a collaborative environment with clients, designers architects and the relevant trades. We want to work in a building world where details are shared in real time, to deliver the best possible results.”
One of the proudest moments in his career was when Hodgson Sayers won the national British Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year award in 2015 against fierce competition. “It was a phenomenal result and an occasion all of us who were there will never forget. Only a small number of us were present at the dinner but it was everyone in the company that made it happen.”
Not one to rest on these successes, he is now looking at diversification into a new service and product using state of the art technology. A development which he says promises to be very exciting for the business.