In those three years, Matthew has built a Groundworks and Civil Engineering business that has three distinct work strands; 12 employees; a host of accreditations; and, most importantly, a diary full of work contracts.
Matthew has always been fascinated by machinery and says he spent hours building and digging as a child. What wasn’t so apparent as he was growing up and going through his education was that Matthew also had a real business head and a real knack for understanding what makes people tick.
“If I’m honest, I wasn’t really that interested in school,” says the genial businessman. “I didn’t really see the relevance of what I was learning. I just wanted to get out into the world and start working.”
Leaving school as soon as he could, Matthew started working with a landscaping company, working on hard landscaping projects. In his own time he worked his way through his driving qualifications and, by the time he was 19, he was driving diggers, being hired as a contractor and taking charge of working gangs on site.
Work took him to sites across Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, working on various construction projects, and Matthew soon realised that there was plenty of work for an ambitious worker who wanted to make it on his own.
At the time Matthew was working for local business owner Joe Paterson at Anglian Plant Hire – someone who remains a friend and mentor today. Matthew explained that he wanted to set up his own company and to Mr Patterson’s credit, he wished the young entrepreneur good luck. He also hired Matthew the equipment necessary to chase the work.
The breakthrough came when Matthew won the contract to work on a new site of 10 homes at Strumpshaw. The developer, Crabtree Living, was a relative newcomer to the county’s housing scene and that may have been behind their decision to hire another start-up to work on the project.
With that work secured Matthew was able to hire three other men and the roots of MB Plant and Civils began to grow and expand. The Strumpshaw project went well and Matthew was also recently awarded the contract to undertake the groundworks for the Village Hall on the same site.
One contract followed another and the white board in Matthew’s office is now covered with projects underway and in the pipeline. As a result he has been able to increase the work force to 12 and take on a number of varied projects.
MB Plant and Civils has also added another string to its bow – Aspects of Civil Engineering, Deep Drainage and Sewer Systems. “I knew we had the specialist skills within the workforce,” says Matthew. “And we have the machinery necessary. On that basis, we now have a specialist gang that works on anything from individual property connections to new build sewer schemes.”
And that is where MB Plant and Civils currently sits. Matthew says the company has reached a point where he needs to make a decision on the next direction. There is enough work and he has enough contracts for MB Plant and Civils to become a much larger company. But that is not where Matthew sees the future.
“We are successful because we have the personal touch,” he says. “I am always the person who deals with customers. From winning the contract through to completion of the work, I take a very hands-on approach. I visit every site at least three times a week and, if there are any problems, I can nip them in the bud instantly.
“For me, that is what running a business is all about. If we expanded further and I had to take on managers, then it wouldn’t be my business anymore. The next stage is to work hard to make the customer experience even better than it is now.”