In 1997, Kvaerner/Trafalgar House decided to close their Cardiff office and regional Director Eric Atkinson and Area Manager Eric Brooks-Dowsett were given the choice of moving to another location or looking for new jobs. Instead, they decided to take the plunge and establish their own new venture, Henstaff Construction, a business that last year had a turnover of over £1.7 million. Akbar Ali – the Chartered Institute of Building’s Wales Building Manager of the Year - joined the firm a year later as Construction Director.
The three directors have worked together in the industry for 18 years and have equal shares in the company. They believe that their success rests on six elements – trust and knowledge of each other, experience, support from suppliers and subcontractors from previous relationships, opportunities, careful staff recruitment and training in IT and safety. The directors take an active role in site supervision, and site managers have been recruited as expansion has taken place. Henstaff is currently actively recruiting an experienced project manager to join their team.
Henstaff specialises in refurbishment and regeneration projects in both the private and public sectors. Clients include the Catholic Church, Crabtree & Evelyn plc, Rhondda Cynon Taff Borough Council, the Open University, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Rockeagle Festival Shopping Ltd, CIS and many others. They have completed two large contracts for Hyder - a roofing and recladding project worth £800,000 at their headquarters at St. Mellons and a £500,000 remodelling and refurbishment at the Ty Coch depot at Cwmbran. The firm is currently building the £650,000 Lottery-funded Fairwater Regeneration Project for the charity Vision 21. They have just completed their first contract outside Wales in Kettering for Hunter Leisure plc. Henstaff also build executive housing and have detailed planning permission for 18 houses near Abergavenny.
The continuous and rapid expansion of Wales fastest growing firm in 2000 means that they are about to move from Henstaff House to new offices in Cardiff Bay. Whilst Constructionline accreditation has been applied for, future plans include increasing the size of contracts won, taking on high quality staff at project manager level, and concentrating on profitable work that enhances the portfolio and reputation of the company.