Search

Battling firm looks to the future

PUBLISHED: 14:18 15 April 2009 | UPDATED: 15:11 07 July 2010

When Kevin Tuck's father told him to learn a trade, neither knew his boat building apprenticeship would lead to designing and building bespoke conservatories for American movie stars.

When Kevin Tuck's father told him to learn a trade, neither knew his boat building apprenticeship would lead to designing and building bespoke conservatories for American movie stars.

More than 30 years on his parents' former smallholding near Fakenham has become a manufacturing plant with 40 staff making and fitting top-end conservatories and orangeries for the UK and US market.

It is a long way from boat building, but it has become Mr Tuck's passion and although he has an order book worth £1.25million of work yet to be started, he is not resting on his laurels.

Earlier this year staff agreed to go on a four-day week to help during a slump.

And he is expecting this winter to be harder than last year and hopes a £70,000 investment in a planer profiler installed in February will help the firm remain competitive.

“We had one of the best years in a long time, only to be hit,” said Mr Tuck.

“The biggest downfall is prices need to be very competitive, there's going to be no pay rise, this is the situation.

“But I believe we have a fantastic product and craftsmen here and we are well respected by architects.”

Turnover was £3m last year but is likely to be about £2.5m this year.

The firm was created not long after Mr Tuck split from the Fakenham joinery firm he had been working with after the boat building market hit a lull.

His firm Tuckswood Joinery joined forces with Mark Jones, now design director, and Arthur Lake, finance director, in 1992 to become Town and Country, specialising in a modern equivalent of Victorian glass houses.

A London office opened just a year later in Brixton, moving to Kensington in 2005. They gradually took on more staff and built new production and design workshops at the Horningtoft base as the firm grew.

In 1994 the American market took off - thanks to a retired solicitor who saw a demand and wanted to become a distributor.

“It opened the doors to the States for us,” said Mr Tuck.

Whilst he cannot divulge some of the A-list clients his firm has built for in America - from movie directors to multi-billion pound singer song writers - a more modest contract was for the conservatory at Galton Blackiston's Morston Hall in north Norfolk.

Another recent move, to maintain efficiency, has been into roof lanterns - a “bread and butter” line, which makes use of off cuts and can infill gaps in the production line.

Their website has also helped business, showing people what they do.

The firm has grown gradually from a turnover of £1.5m in 2000.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Dereham Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists