Looking back – and forward – with R Collard

21 July 2016

Robert Collard, managing director of the company he founded in 1995, at the open day held to celebra

Robert Collard, managing director of the company he founded in 1995, at the open day held to celebrate the company's 21 years in business

United Kingdom-based demolition and recycling specialist R Collard has celebrated 21 years in the business with a special open day at its site in Hampshire in the south of England.

Managing director Robert Collard, who set up the company in 1995, said the secret of its success was in sensible pricing and an awareness of its surroundings.

“It’s about having a sustainable company and being there to see the contract through,” said Robert.

“We’re not trying to be greedy and retire to the Bahamas, but any contract needs to provide a certain amount of profit.

“We are going to be an irritation to the local community, but we make sure this is minimal and done in the most environmentally and community friendly way we can. That way we won’t be disruptive.”

The company now turns over £26 million (US$34 million) and Robert believes that launching it in 1995 – during a recession in its domestic market – has helped it to grow. He said it survived the financial crisis of 2008-09 without any major scares and it has gone on to expand, notably building and opening an aggregates plant in May of last year.

However it is the demolition industry where the roots of the business lie.

“We’ve been very successful in demolition,” said Robert.

“It’s been very easy to get into demolition and waste at a very low level. We keep our costs low, but we won’t drop our prices if it means comprising on what we believe in.

“We look at some potential clients and there are people on the tender list who are literally a man and a van. Why should they be tendering against with employees, depots, an infrastructure? I feel our whole industry is frowned upon. People don’t understand what demolition companies have to do and the risks we have to take.

“It’s a very undervalued industry, it doesn’t get enough recognition.”

Part of the company’s success is down to being involved in more than one sector. As well as the demolition business, it transport fleet has expanded rapidly, with 75 trucks and 1,500 skips, helped by a location close to the constantly developing Thames Valley. It operates a five-year vehicle and plant replacement policy and its excavator fleet is mainly Hitachi Zaxis models.

It’s a long way from starting out “literally with a boxful of spanners” in the last century, and Robert does admit that “sometimes it feels more like 41 years than 21, though it’s definitely a milestone and it’s been pleasurable.”

He believes the company has gone through “a purple patch” in the past seven or eight years, helped by the end of the financial crisis and the growth in demand for construction waste.

“Five years ago, the brakes came off and we were in a position to capitalise. The main aim for the next five years is to continue as we have been.”

With teenage sons Ricky and Jordan waiting in the wings, the next 21 years of R Collard start here.

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