When engineer Malcolm Clear decided to re-roof his own house he little realised he was also building the foundations of a successful construction company.
Neighbours were impressed by his work and asked him to replace their roofs. Word of quality workmanship spread and CRB Contractors was born.
Over the years the company has nurtured the reputation for quality workmanship. It grew from a one-man band and its current workforce of 12 includes skilled craftspeople covering all sections of the building trade.
Now as it celebrates its 30th anniversary in the middle of a recession the business is ready to take advantage of any upturn in the economy.
Malcolm is still involved but son Ben is at the helm and keen to continue their fair customer-focused approach.
He recognises the benefit of his father’s attitude over the years and has honed a list of promises sent out with every quote. They include providing a professional, reliable and courteous team and continually investing in the best possible training to help maintain an experienced and qualified workforce.
Ben takes great pride in the company’s history and enjoys talking to customers who remember work done for them in the past.
They remember, for example, the Great Storm in 1987 and how Malcolm operated a strict first come first served list with no queue jumping.
Ben said: ‘It’s great talking to people now planning an extension who remember how we helped them after the storm.’
CRB is based in Eastbourne and has carried out many landmark projects in the resort. They include refurbishing the town’s bandstand and the £1 million re-build of parts of the Grand Hotel destroyed in a fire in the ‘90s. The middle turret and a major part of the upstairs were lost.
‘We were there on the night with a fleet of vehicles waiting for firemen to control the blaze so we could cover the building,’ said Ben.
CRB is a member of Eastbourne Construction and committed to employing people and sourcing materials locally so money is generated for the local economy.
It also invests time in building long-term relationships with suppliers and other related building tradespeople who they can trust, like scaffolders, asbestos specialists and flood restorers. The company prides itself on offering sound professional advice.
Outside Eastbourne a prestigious job for CRB was building of the spa at the East Sussex National Golf Hotel and Spa just outside Uckfield.They also have other clients across the south east.
‘We guarantee all our work for ten years and are not prepared to compromise on quality. We won’t put our name to sub standard work and aim to reassure customers through membership of trade federations like the Federation of Master Builders and the National Federation of Roofing Contractors,’ said Ben.
One project he was particularly pleased to secure recently was refurbishment and extension of the village hall at Laughton, near Lewes - he remembers sitting cross-legged on the floor in there during school assemblies.
Ben is keen to ensure that CRB embraces new technologies. They have qualified in the use of Rhepanol, a premium single ply roofing material recognised for its ecological and lifespan performance and in the use of Sealoflex, a liquid roofing system which can be used to renovate and repair commercial roofs and domestic flat roofs.
The company is still supporting apprentices through day release courses at college and backing the new vocational GCSE by taking on young learners for one day a week during term time to show them how the industry works and give them an opportunity to experience different trades.
Looking back over the years Malcolm said: ‘I never dreamed when I started learning how to re-roof my own home that I was building a business which would stand the test of time. ‘I still enjoy the construction industry and look forward to new challenges knowing that CRB is in good hands, Ben’s hands and those of the skilled craftspeople we employ.’