Breyer Group Case Study
When Fred Breyer started his own asphalt and felt roofing business in 1956 in Leytonstone it is unlikely he expected the firm to eventually turnover more than £100 million a year and employ more than 500 staff working across the country, but that is what the Breyer Group now does, all coordinated from its Harold Hill headquarters.
Fred’s son, Tim, took over the running of the firm in 1990 and has since developed the roofing business to be the largest in the south-east.
The decision was taken to focus on providing services for social housing organisations and in 1991 Tim set up a construction division to undertake refurbishments, which now contribute 60 per cent of the firm’s turnover.
That was followed by a repairs division being established in 2003 with offices in Dartford and Leytonstone.
And it was that growth that prompted the firm to look for new premises.
Managing Director, Tim Breyer, explained: “We wanted to stay in the Waltham Forest area but there were no suitable premises available. When the then Finance Director suggested Harold Hill we were not really keen but came along to see what he had found and were impressed.
“The transport links are very good thanks to the A12 and M25 and the rail link from Harold Wood to London is frequent and convenient and should be even better when Crossrail services begin linking directly through to central London and Heathrow. What is lacking is a bus service through the industrial estate linking it to other public transport networks such as the station.
“We moved our head office to Harold Hill in 2003; since then we have bought two neighbouring sites and invested more than £5 million in the area. The most recent was in 2013 when we moved our call centre here bringing around 50 more jobs to the area.
“One of the things that surprised us when we moved here was the help and support from Havering Council with departments very linked up and supportive. I found that mentioning something to one contact would usually lead to the right person ringing me within 24 hours to answer my query – that is service you can’t fault.”
Tim now serves as a member of the Havering Business Voice Board which provides a sounding board for Havering Council, giving feedback from businesses about the local economy and what is needed to help it grow.
He added: “We now have more than 200 staff based at Harold Hill and have been very impressed by the quality of candidates available locally when we advertise a vacancy. Our policy is that for any vacancy in the firm we look for a suitable Havering resident first to fill the job.
“We work closely with Romford Job Centre Plus and often offer work experience placements which give candidates the chance to prove themselves, so we know if they can do the job and they know what the job involves.
“There are currently 55 apprentices in the Breyer Group – around one in ten of our staff – and our apprenticeship scheme has won national recognition as being at the fore-front of such schemes. Many of those apprentices, including graduates, gain new qualifications with us and then move on to more senior roles within the Breyer Group or even with other companies, which then creates vacancies for new apprentices to join us.
“We are committed to helping all our staff fulfil their potential. For example the person responsible for putting together contract bids for the roofing team is a philosophy graduate who joined us as an apprentice and Kevin Hall, who is second in charge of the roofing division, joined us as a trainee buyer.
“Every contract we win we include an Employment and Skills Plan designed to attract and train local people working on that project.
“We have no difficulty recruiting local people to fill our vacancies with a good supply of graduates and trainees as well as trades people.”
The commitment to staff includes encouraging them to keep fit and healthy through a cycle to work scheme – with Tim often cycling to work from his home in Loughton – and even supplying bikes so staff can get round the site they are working on more quickly and easily.
The Breyer Group also as a strong commitment to the area and is assisting with a joint funding bid with Havering College to develop a construction campus to provide people with the skills they need to work in the industry.
Tim added: “Our business plan includes increasing the proportion of our business which is repairs, as that is less cyclical than new build contracts and will give us a good foundation for future growth.
“It also shows a continuing commitment to Havering as being based in the Borough has proved beneficial for the business, our staff and the wider community.”