MEET THE MD Gra­ham Stevens

Kent Life - - Business Life - WORDS: Sarah Sturt

The com­pany di­rec­tor at An­thony Hicks Ltd on the value of ap­pren­tice­ships and crafts­man­ship

Tell us about you

I was born in Maid­stone and at­tended Old Bor­ough Manor School. My first job was an ap­pren­tice­ship at Chatham Dock­yard, where I trained as a ship­wright. When the dock­yard closed I was trans­ferred to the Farn­bor­ough air­base, where I changed my trade to a car­pen­ter and joiner. Once my ap­pren­tice­ship was com­pleted, I came home and worked with lo­cal com­pany Mills and Sharp. I then went self em­ployed and was in­volved in the restora­tion of Chilston Park Ho­tel in Len­ham. Dur­ing this time I was in­tro­duced to An­thony Hicks, which led to my fi­nal job move at the age of 23. I met my now wife Julie at Chilston and we have two chil­dren.

And the busi­ness?

An­thony Hicks grew up in Rye, which is where his pas­sion for tra­di­tional oak-frame build­ings be­gan. He started our busi­ness in 1980 and was one of the first in the UK at the re­birth of build­ing oak frames us­ing tra­di­tional build­ing meth­ods and tech­niques. Since this time our busi­ness has grown and we now de­sign and build all man­ner of new oak frames, from houses to ex­ten­sions and garages. We also re­store his­toric build­ings us­ing the same tra­di­tional tech­niques. I first met An­thony 32 years ago and was of­fered a po­si­tion as a car­pen­ter. I was then asked to man­age a cou­ple of teams, which even­tu­ally be­came a full-time site man­ager’s po­si­tion look­ing af­ter all of our projects. I was then of­fered a new po­si­tion as an es­ti­ma­tor/sales­man, which I con­tinue to en­joy to this day. An­thony re­tired in 2010.

Any ma­jor changes?

As with any suc­cess­ful busi­ness it’s im­por­tant to em­brace change and as our busi­ness grows we are joined by new team mem­bers and are adapt­ing our busi­ness to en­sure these skills are passed on to the next gen­er­a­tion. We’ve re­cently achieved an SMAS ac­cred­i­ta­tion and in­vest a lot of our time in health and safety.

Busi­ness phi­los­o­phy?

We are pas­sion­ate about what we do and at the heart of our phi­los­o­phy is a de­sire to make it easy for clients and con­sul­tants to do busi­ness with us. We’re com­mit­ted to up­hold­ing solid re­la­tion­ships based on trust and built on per­for­mance. Our track record of more than 30 years has earned us a rep­u­ta­tion for pro­fes­sion­al­ism, hon­esty, co­op­er­a­tion, prob­lem solv­ing and out­stand­ing crafts­man­ship.

Spe­cial qual­i­ties

Our spe­cial qual­i­ties are the pro­fes­sional struc­ture of our busi­ness, our spe­cial­ist knowl­edge and the crafts­man­ship of our work­force. We are renowned for of­fer­ing a truly be­spoke ser­vice to meet the spe­cific needs of ev­ery cus­tomer, backed by a di­verse and vast set of skills which pro­vides us with the abil­ity to un­der­take and com­plete a wide range of projects, from new-build de­signs and ex­ten­sions to com­plex build­ing restora­tions and con­ser­va­tion projects. This is sup­ported by our in-house draw­ing and tech­ni­cal ad­vice ser­vice team, who pro­vide de­sign and plan­ning draw­ings and his­toric oak frame sur­veys.

Ca­reer ad­vice?

If you have an in­ter­est in tra­di­tional oak build­ings, I would sug­gest com­plet­ing an ap­pro­pri­ate col­lege course and try­ing to get on board with a rep­utable com­pany. Also con­sider other spe­cial­ist cour­ses avail­able such as work­ing with lime, which is as­so­ci­ated with tim­ber frames and will help you be­come more em­ploy­able.

Your role in five years?

We’re cur­rently pre­par­ing and in­vest­ing in the next gen­er­a­tion of An­thony Hicks Ltd over the next 10 years and more. How­ever, within five years I should be play­ing more of a sup­port­ing role as I pass on my ex­pe­ri­ence and train my son Char­lie to step into my shoes. An­thony Hicks drops in on a daily ba­sis and it’s won­der­ful to know he can rest as­sured that his legacy and pas­sion will con­tinue.

How do you re­lax?

I love trav­el­ling and pho­tog­ra­phy, en­joy so­cial­is­ing with friends, restor­ing my house and watch­ing my foot­ball team Maid­stone United.

Break­fast this morn­ing? Sal­mon on a bed of prawns, lightly sea­soned, and dress­ing driz­zled over with a pinch of … no, not re­ally, just a slice of toast and a cup of tea!

Get in touch

An­thony Hicks Ltd - Oak Frame Build­ings

Jes­samine Farm, Old Rom­ney TN29 9SG

01797 366895 www.an­thony-hicks.co.uk

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