There is a Village Hall in Strumpshaw which is an addition to the work that went into the 10-house Norfolk Homes project. There is work going on in Frettenham, King’s Lynn, Blakeney. The team of 12 are spread across the county and the demand for Matt and his team is high.
Between them, the team members cover groundworks and construction; deep drainage and sewage; road works and footpaths; and the company’s first role, as suppliers of plant hire machinery. And, as founder Matt Body says: “Norfolk is a building site, there is plenty of work from individual builds to large multi-build sites.”
So what is the secret of his success? At time of writing, Matt has been his own boss for just under three years. In that time he has built a team of 12, been named as one of Norfolk and Suffolk’s Future 50 and has seen his turnover go from £80,000 to £1.5 million.
“Ironically, it is about staying a small to medium sized company,” says Matt. “As we are, it is possible for me to visit every site at least three times a week. I do all the contract negotiations so I spend a lot of time getting to know the customers and building those relationships. And, if there is any sense that a problem is going to arise, I can react immediately.”
Matt’s argument is that once a company becomes a certain size, then the personal touch is lost. “A customer might lodge a small complaint but because it is not dealt with for a couple of weeks it becomes much bigger. We are still a size where I can keep an eye on all aspects of the business. I like to keep the customer and his or her relationship with me at the core of what we are doing.”
Then there are the company values. MB Plant and Civils is all about respect. “I treat people the way I would like to be treated,” says Matt. “That includes customers, suppliers and the people who work for me.”
Much of this goes back to when he was starting out in business. He admits to being daunted by people who were already successful in business but those that spent the time talking to the young entrepreneur and answering his questions, now enjoy his unstinted loyalty. He name checks John Paterson of Anglian Plant Hire who hired him and then supported him as he became his own boss. The two companies continue to send work each others way.
The third factor in MB Plant and Civils success is the level of quality they bring to each piece of work. Matt is hot on training and all his staff receive the training they need to do the job to the highest level. Health and safety, site management training, first aid training, manual handling – the list of training courses is vast but Matt is determined never to be caught out through gaps in his team’s knowledge.
So back to that size issue. MB Plant and Civils could expand geographically and in terms of the work load they take on. But aside from Matt’s own belief in the integrity of small businesses, there are two more reasons why he is not going to grow the business.
“I want to consolidate what we are doing and, if there are any areas that we can improve further, then that is what we will concentrate upon,” he says. “We have three areas we specialise in: ground works, including roads and footpaths; deep drainage and sewers; and plant hire. We do all of those well but we could do even better. I will be taking an in-depth look at ways we can improve what we offer our customers.”
The other reason is all about locality. As someone who spent many hours trawling back and forth to Bedford, Cambridge and the outskirts of London, before and after a long day at work on site, Matt knows that this will not get the best from the workforce. All the team are local, and so Matt is determined that the work he takes on will also be mostly local. “Where possible, I use local suppliers, local materials and local workers,” he says. “It means we cut down our environmental footprint and we put money back into the local economy.”
It is values like this that keep the contracts rolling in.