Hall Brothers celebrate 50 years in business
- Credit: Su Anderson
The Hall Brothers, a joinery and building company in Fingringhoe, celebrate 50 years in business this year. Ross Bentley reports.
I visit the Fingringhoe-based, family-run joinery company Hall Brothers on a sunny summer’s day. As I approach I can hear the sound of a buzz saw and there is an air of skilled application as I make my way through the workshop.
It is a scene that has changed little from 50 years ago when the company was first formed by Roy Hall who served his apprenticeship under his father Reginald Hall. Over the years, the firm has built a reputation for excellence as it has incorporated its handcrafted windows and doors into building projects.
Today, the business is run by Roy’s sons Philip and Richard who joined the firm in the 1980s after also taking apprenticeships under the guardianship of grandfather Reginald. They are rightly proud of the company’s heritage and a quick flick through their brochure, where examples of their work are displayed, shows that they turn out work of the highest quality. It is clear they share their father’s and grandfather’s love of working with wood and take enormous pride in doing a good job.
But, it hasn’t been all plain-sailing. Like all businesses involved in the building trade, over the years they have had to deal with recessions and downturns where people are less likely to spend money on home improvements.
“I suppose the secret of our success is that we do all different types of work – not just windows or doors - and we do building work also, so we have an edge and are not just limited to one area,” said Philip.
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“We are able to see a project as a whole and work on all or part of it. For example, if you are fitting a kitchen there may have to be structural changes, extra openings for windows, and additional pipe work and tiling. We can do all that.”
Today, Philip is the first point of contact with customers and works with them to draw up the initial designs for a project.
He added: “I’ve become a good listener. I can take on board comments people make and interpret them into a design. Sometimes, people can’t always express what they want in words but we can work with them to design it how they want.”
Richard is still to be found in the workshop or out on site working each day, a situation, he believes, ensures top quality work and high customer satisfaction.
He said: “We go out and meet customers and are also on the shop floor working with the staff - there is no remoteness from us with any part of the business. Not all firms have directors that are so involved in the day-to-day work.”
Richard says he has seen big changes in trends in building design and what people want from their home improvements over the years.
He added: “Today, we are much more energy conscious and this has driven innovation in the products we use. There has also been a move to open plan living and creating social spaces within a home whereas homes used to be made up of separate rooms for kitchen, dining room and lounge.”
He said the types of projects customers request these days involve the building of orangeries and garden rooms, and the installation of oak staircases, wooden flooring and bi-fold doors that link the inside with outside.
The firm mainly works on properties located in Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire and today employs a team of ten staff, as well as working regularly with other family firms who they know will produce work up to their high standards.
The brothers believe in the benefits of apprenticeships, having been through this type of training themselves, and over the years have taken on a number of young people through this route. Some still work for the company years after they have completed their training. Currently, the firm employs two apprentices.
“Apprenticeships achieve a number of things – they give young people the opportunity to gain qualifications that will be useful through the whole of their career, and we get to train people in the way that we want things done,” said Philip.
It would seem the Hall Brothers brand is safe for a long time to come.