Winner of the Suffolk Business Awards reveals the secret of its success
- Credit: DAVID GARRAD
A family business based in Needham Market, Breheny Civil Engineering, was crowned winner of the Business of the Year award at last night’s prestigious Suffolk Business Awards. Its chairman John Breheny said his dad Jack Breheny, who started the business in Lowestoft in 1963, would have been “extremely proud.”
The company’s story is very much a rags to riches tale, as Jack Breheny was born in Ireland as one of seven children, and left home at 21 with £2 in his pocket to find work on building sites. He started the company with a single item of plant: a back hoe excavator; today they have in excess of 3,000, and his son John Breheny has recently expanded the business to six regional offices across England.
Mr Breheny said he hadn’t been expecting to win the top award.
“My father started the business - I’m just a caretaker for it,” he said modestly. “There were so many great businesses there who talked far better than I did it.”
Mr Breheny revealed that the secret of keeping the company going for so many years through the highs and the lows lies in managing cash flow. “The margins aren’t great in our industry, and the biggest challenge we face is just to keep going and to manage the cash flow over the longer term. There’s always someone coming in who is going to be lower than you so its always hard to be profitable, but we always try to have a pipeline of work.
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“The most important thing for a family business is to set the flavour and to say ‘this is how we do business, this is how we treat the staff, and to let the directors and the managers just get on with the job.”
Mr Breheny has three children, and hopes that one of them will come on board in the future, maintaining the family element of the business. But they shouldn’t expect a leg-up the career ladder. “They have to work their way up- I don’t one of them to come in and work their way straight up when other people have been there for years,” said Mr Breheny. “They have to earn the respect of their employees.”
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More than 300 movers and shakers from the Suffolk business community celebrated the Suffolk Business Awards last night at a glittering ceremony held at Milsoms, Kesgrave Hall.
Host Miles Jupp provided the entertainment, and the 12 businesses who were crowned winners came to the stage to accept their awards from sponsors EDF Energy, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, Norse, University of Suffolk, Pure, Birketts, Suffolk New College/West Suffolk College, Greater Anglia, Scrutton Bland, EADT Suffolk magazine, Ashtons Legal, EADT and Adnams.
The outsourcing HR support company MAD-HR was a runner-up in the Small Business category.
“While we may not have taken top spot on this occasion, we’re enormously proud to have received such glowing feedback from the judging panel and organisers of this award series,” said managing director Carole Burman. “Being recognised at the ‘final’ stage of such a prestigious award is a great opportunity for us to reflect on all that we’ve achieved in the short lifespan of our business so far, and to look ahead to some of the exciting developments we have in store.”
Suffolk Business Awards 2018: The winners
• Business of the Year, sponsored by EDF Energy & Suffolk Chamber of Commerce
Breheny Civil Engineering
• Outstanding Achievement, sponsored by Suffolk County Council
Amy Starkey, Jockey Club Racecourses, Newmarket
• Environment and Sustainability, sponsored by Adnams
• Customer Care, sponsored by Greater Anglia
Home Instead Senior Care
• Family Business, sponsored by Scrutton Bland
• Innovation Award, sponsored by University of Suffolk
• Best Employer, sponsored by Pure & Birketts
• Young Business Person, sponsored by Suffolk West College & Suffolk New College
Millie Rose Homewood - Millie Rose Hair & Beauty and Industry Hair & Beauty Academy
• Showcasing Excellence, sponsored by Norse
Breheny Civil Engineering
• Small Business, sponsored by EADT Suffolk magazine
Spider Fixed Fee Web Recruitment
• Medium Business, sponsored by Ashtons Legal
• Large Business, sponsored by the EADT
One Group Construction