Anderson Group – Built to Order
Anderson Group has made a splash in the UK house construction sector by listening to its clients and looking after its staff.
The Anderson Group was founded by Chairman Mark Anderson 34 years ago, with CEO Andrew Jay joining 17 years ago and from the start, the company had a strong philosophy when it came to how it interacted with its people.
“Jointly what we wanted to do was always put people front and centre, treating them as we want to be treated,” Jay recalls.
“We wanted to create a business that treated its people well. Because when we started in the industry we were not treated well on site. Often, we were seen as a commodity, rather than people and individuals who might have something valuable to add.
Anything I say about the business is prefaced by how brilliant our brilliant people are. That is us, that sets the tone for what we’re doing.”
The Anderson Group is a multidisciplinary contracting and development business. Its contracting work has been put to use by external clients among all the UK’s biggest national housebuilders.
It boasts a development pipeline that includes 2,800 new homes, has contracts valued to a total of £85 million and has secured 2.65 million square feet of developments.
“We don’t work for major contractors, we work for the big housebuilders directly, Hopkins, Vistry, Redrow, Taylor Wimpey, Crest, all those notable high street names in terms of housebuilders,” Jay points out. “The contracting business also contracts for our own development business, a small house builder that builds 200 new homes a year. The two businesses sit absolutely alongside each other. It is mutually beneficial, and our people do not feel they work for one sector or the other. We’re not Anderson Construction or Anderson Developments, we’re just Anderson.”
Most of the time both sides of the business work in tandem, securing opportunities for the business as a whole. Anderson Group attracts that business and keeps clients coming back because it prioritises listening to its customers.
“I always say to people, I have two ears and one mouth for a reason,” Jay says. I like to listen more than I talk. From the beginning, I work closely with clients to understand what they require. Understanding what our clients’ needs are, and having access to our depths of experience, means what the client thinks they need initially might not be what is best for them. But we will listen and talk and work to come up with suitable solutions.”
Jay describes Anderson Group’s USP as listening and providing a solution-focussed outlook.
“We start with ‘What do you want to achieve?’ and work back,” he says. “That is equally applicable to a developer that needs a road put in from point A to B, to a first-time buyer trying to get on the housing ladder, to
looking for an extra bedroom, or downsizing. We want to know what are you looking for? What support do you have? What do you know about the area?”
A Link in the Chain
While Anderson Group has a proud track record behind it, its journey has not been without its challenges. Like many businesses in the UK, it has faced issues around the supply chain.
“Our biggest challenges now are around supply chain,” Jay tells us. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link, so we have strong communications links with our suppliers.”
This means working with suppliers to define what is achievable, rather than setting arbitrary growth targets.
Jay warns, “You can be a victim of your own success. We don’t take on work for the sake of it.”
This forward-looking approach to work means Anderson Group can always achieve what it says it will.
“Somebody might have to need something done by a particular time, we research if it is possible and engage with the supply chain,” Jay says. “It might be the client’s first expectation isn’t achievable but a negotiated agreement on what is achievable can be made. We plan and forecast for everything we undertake.”
People Front and Centre
All of this is carried out successfully thanks to Anderson’s strong team, and its investment in those people.
“We’re taking on many apprentices, we’re an accredited training provider. People can leave school at 16 and liaise with us and the Colchester Institute,” Jay points out.
While the search for fresh talent is ongoing, Anderson also values its established team members.
“We are huge believers in developing our own team and in that regard, we have 67 people that worked for us for over ten years,” Jay says.
“Many have worked for us since the company was founded, their grown children are now in the business. We are building up a good reputation for ourselves as an employer. The actual expectations of many employees from their employers are low – they just want to be treated fairly. We do not call health and safety ‘health and safety’, it is ‘systems delivery’ because it is not separate from the main thrust of our work. It improves the way the business operates when built into the actual task. Forward planning leads to health and safety automatically, alongside better quality.”
These relationships extend beyond the company and through its supply chain.
“We have deeply valued relationships with clients,” says Jay. “We are very conscious that our relationships with the housebuilders we work for are hugely important.”
It is an approach that has seen Anderson Group grow continuously year-on-year (with the notable exceptions of the 2008 crunch and the interruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic). That growth has always been, and Jay insists it will remain, completely organic.
“We’re not acquiring other business,” he says.
Indeed, Anderson Group already seems to have everything it needs.