The oak frame industry began to die out around 150 years ago, with the evolution of building techniques such as steel frames for farm buildings and large structures. This, alongside advancements in concrete technology and bricks, lead to the demise of oak framing.
My father Michael had a passion for old oak frame buildings and started collecting them when I was a child. He would take them down from their original sites in farmyards and the countryside for us to clean up and re-erect at our home. Family friend and business acquaintance, Phillippe Wilcox, was inspired by what my Dad had been doing and came up with the concept of English Heritage Buildings. They partnered and set up the business, starting to manufacture new oak frame buildings in 1990.
The company grew quickly, sparking a revival in oak framing in the UK.
I joined the business in 2000 as a Director and Shareholder and then took over the enterprise in 2004. I identified that the company needed a major restructure and took the decision to evolve the business from an entrepreneurial operation to a professional organisation. By creating a clear company structure and empowering the team with a vision of continued improvement and development, the business has reached new heights ever since.
In 2007 we took the decision to try and achieve Trada Q-Mark certification, as at the time there was not a recognised standard for the manufacture of oak frame buildings. We had to completely start from scratch; writing and demonstrating how we could design, manufacture and build to Trada’s 22 standards. Then show how we would maintain this high standard on an ongoing basis, with six-monthly audits from Trada.
In Trada’s own words they made us “jump through hoops” for over two years, until we finally achieved what many of our competitors and others in the industry felt was impossible – the much-acclaimed Trada Q-Mark.
The Q-Mark is a huge benefit to our clients, giving them peace of mind that their frame has been approved by one of the world’s leading authorities in timber. However, it also gives us a massive advantage as a business, providing a clear management process that ensures each building we manufacture meets every necessary standard.
Continuing the company’s commitment to improvement and development, we also invested in our own bespoke quoting system that is aligned with our manufacturing model, to provide accurate and consistent pricing.
Starting with the original founders and continuing when I took over the business, I feel we have taken an ancient and traditional building practice and brought it completely up to date!
Looking ahead, we plan to further improve and evolve our business, by continuing to set high standards for the industry and leading the way in oak framing.