Family firm makes investment in plant

PUBLISHED: 16:22 13 March 2013 | UPDATED: 16:23 13 March 2013

Bill Littleboy and Rupert Jarvis with the new machinery at Longwater Gravel at Horstead.  Photo: Bill Smith

Bill Littleboy and Rupert Jarvis with the new machinery at Longwater Gravel at Horstead. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2013

Norfolk-run family firm Longwater Gravel has completed a £300,000 investment to buy two new JCBs and upgrade its washing plant facilities at one of its aggregrate extraction sites.

The third generation family firm, which celebrated its diamond jubilee last year, took the decision to invest in the new equipment after securing extra land at its existing extraction site at Horstead, near Coltishall.

The two JCB loading shovels were supplied by Wymondham-based Watling JCB, while the firm also worked with three other Norfolk businesses – ADR Electrical, at Honningham, DJ Ireland, from Mulbarton, and Panks Pumps in Norwich for the electrics, groundworks, and pumps and pipework.

Bill Littleboy, director, said the business made the investment after securing an extension to the site on neighbouring land which adds 10 years to the life of the site, which is now in its eighth year.

“We decided it was a good time to upgrade the machinery and spend a bit of money,” he said. “We’ve bitten the bullet and spent £300,000 on the two JCBs. The JCBs have come in at the right price and it’s always nice to buy British.”

Based at the Longwater business park in Costessey, near Norwich, the business, which employs 15 staff across three sites in Norfolk has a turnover of about £2.5m.

It has also developed a side business recycling concrete topsoil and brick rubble, while a sister company, builders’ merchant business, Longwater Construction, run by Neil Carter, has also been going from strength to strength.

Meawhile, three years ago it appointed a non-family member, Simon Smith, as a director of the business.

Will Littleboy, managing director, said the decision was a reflection of the growing nature of the business and the need to give it a broader management base.

“We were very lucky as he has national experience, and we realised that we needed somebody at that level,” he said.

He said the new investment would help improve efficiency at the site, which extracts about 1,000 tonnes of gravel a week.

Despite tough times in the construction industry he said the business positioned itself at the smaller end of the market, and hired out part of its sites to ready mix businesses, which as well as providing a market for its materials was an attractive proposition to those firms as they could be immediately on site.

“We don’t chase the big contracts because those tend to go to the multi-nationals,” he said. “We are at the smaller end of the market, working with the smaller builders.

“They have found ways to keep themselves going. Generally the smaller builders are quite busy.”

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