TEN UP FOR PROUD WELSHMAN IAN
Ian Richards is a happy man. This proud Welshman is still reveling in Wales’ Six Nations triumph over England in Cardiff when I interview him.
It’s ten years since Ian set up his fencing business, based at Groombridge near Tunbridge Wells in Kent and it’s thriving thanks to the same kind of teamwork displayed by Warren Gatland’s charges. Ian has been fencing since 1999 when he set up with his cousin and later his father in central Wales. Eight years later an opportunity arose to livestock fence part of a 2000 acre estate in the South East. Ian explained “It was a job I couldn’t turn down. Six months turned into 18 months on the 2000 acre estate and, after that in April 2009, I decided to set up on my own on the border between Kent and East Sussex. “It was difficult at first as I missed Wales and my family back there but I immersed myself in work with a growing list of customers. I met my future wife Sophie in June 2008 and, since then, she has played a critical role in the success of the business. “I came down here as a single man and now have a family with two young children.
“Sophie looks after all of the admin and paperwork and oversees our health and safety but initially she spent a lot of time on the tools out in the field so she understands the nature of the work we carry out. That is invaluable and she’s proved herself to be the backbone of the business,” added Ian. Richards Fencing now employs six full-time staff with the addition of three or four subbies from time to time. It’s a real team effort with Ian now focusing on quoting for jobs. “We have a fantastic team here and cannot thank my employees enough for their contributions towards our success. Teamwork is everything in this job and I’m immensely proud of their efforts. We are a happy family!
“We have just recruited a fencing contractor whose experience and local knowledge is proving invaluable out in the field. “I don’t mind not being on the tools anymore as I love meeting new customers and pricing up their requirements. It’s a part of the job that is very satisfying and we treat every single customer with the same importance, no matter what their size or the nature of the work. I always aim to get back to customers promptly.
“We have grown and grown on the back of going above and beyond the call of duty for our customers and consistently delivering a quality job. Indeed one job recently saw my team staying on site until 1am to ensure a customer was taken care of after a power cut. That particular customer was gobsmacked by our commitment and that kind of reputation spreads fast.
“We’ve had to learn from our mistakes from time to time just like all businesses in order to ensure smooth growth. You have to learn to walk before you can run and we are learning all the time. “Estate fencing contracts now account for the lion’s share with livestock, agricultural, equestrian and domestic jobs making up the rest of our work,” added Ian who combines the fencing work with a love of farming. He has 125 sheep, Welsh mules unsurprisingly which he keeps on 2 parcels of land which total to 80 acres. “I do enjoy the variety of my work. The fencing was very much seasonal when I lived in Wales. I combined it with a lot of farming. These days fencing is twelve months a year but I can still find time for my flock.
“We never work more than twomonths ahead yet we have never been quiet since I started out a decade ago,” added Ian who has an impressive array of machinery onhand to help with the workload. With two Kanga skidsteers, a Protech 230S postknocker, a Kubota KX027 auger machine and a trusty John Deere tractor Richards Fencing is perfectly placed to deal with any eventuality
Word of mouth tends to be Ian’s most effective form of marketing although his impressive website, with a long list of testimonial quotes from happy customers, does a fine job of selling his story. “I love what I do and working with a great team makes this job so much more enjoyable. Without them I don’t know where I’d be. The future is bright, especially if Wales win thisyear’s Six Nations!” concluded Ian.
Richards Fencing Ltd
2 Lions Villas, Station Road,Groombridge, East Sussex TN3 9QZ
Tel: 07811 956744 /
01892 770186 www.richards-fencing.co.uk