Neil Burke Joinery (NBJ), specialise in the manufacture of High Quality Specialist Bespoke Joinery and Cabinetry. Established in 1982 they have the knowledge and expertise to carry out both residential and commercial projects. Below Sharon Burke, Director at NBJ has given us some insight on how to start and maintain a successful construction business.


In the last 30 years or so what changes have you seen and how has it affected NBJ?

In the last 30 years we have seen periods of growth and contraction which we have had to adapt and react to. Employee rights have extended and there is increased regulation regarding their employment, in particular the CIS scheme. One of the greatest changes is H&S awareness and acceptance of responsibility.


How did you overcome this?

We try to anticipate downturns in business and react with cut backs. With regard to employees we have accepted new legislation and this has been reflected in increased labour charge out rates. In respect of H&S we recognise the dangerous nature of the construction environment and as a CHAS approved contractor have the necessary internal procedures to mitigate this and comply with H&S legislation.


What is NBJ’s biggest achievement or most memorable project?

Our most recent memorable project is the prestigious Magdalen College in Oxford. A Victorian building was sympathetically restored from an empty shell into a well equipped and aesthetically magnificent study space. The Joinery was a key element in the restoration and we were delighted to be appointed.


How did your business grow? Any key moments?

Our business has evolved organically and we have expanded gradually over the last 30 years. We moved to our present factory in 2009 and have now extended and developed this.


Have you seen an increase in the use of technology in the construction industry?

In the last 30 years the use of technology within the construction industry has hugely increased. We have seen the development of Woodworking Machinery in the Factory and Autocad programmes for the Design and ease of manufacture. We are committed to continually re-investing in technology and recognise the necessity of this for our progression and performance.

Our accounting software is continually being upgraded. We currently use Construct from Eque2 and this development in construction software has streamlined our administration process and allows us to micro manage our projects and associated costs.


What 3 tips would you give someone who is looking to start a construction business?

Make sure you have adequate finance in place at the beginning, as starting in the Joinery business requires a great deal of initial investment. Cash flow can also be slow in manufacturing and having enough resources is essential.

Be prepared to work 24/7, 365 days a year– it will not be easy starting out in business.

Be resilient and determined. Treat every day as a new one to overcome all challenges you will inevitably be presented with.