A new £3 million headquarters for Fife-based business Purvis Group is set to open next month.
The Covid-19 lockdown last March delayed the relocation of the company to a 16-acre headquarter site at Lochgelly, which will have 100,000 sq ft of warehousing and 30,000 sq ft of offices.
It is expected to be fully open next month.
Until now, Purvis Group has been using yards at Cartmore Industrial Estate, but the business, established in 1980 by Bob Purvis, has outgrown them.
Craig Purvis, Bob’s son and managing director, said one of the reasons for the move is to allow one of its operations, Cartmore Building Supplies, to expand with more stock and new lines.
He said: “The new site will also give us a better visual and more-accessible site, next to a junction on the A92.”
The early days
Bob Purvis started the business as a one-man operation in a small garage in a rented yard in Lochgelly, with just a van and trailer, petrol mixer and a vibrating plate.
He had previously served his plant mechanic apprenticeship with Costain at the Westfield open-cast mine.
He then worked for Tractor Shovels as the firm’s youngest-ever foreman, before a brief spell teaching at Perth Technical College.
His son Craig, the firm’s managing director, said: “Although he loved teaching, the pay was not enough to bring up his young family living in Perth at the time.
“He left the college and went back to what he knew best – plant hire.”
The major breakthrough in the early days came after Bob, who remains actively involved as chairman, bought the plant fleet of Barratt Homes.
His fleet jumped overnight from a couple of dozen to more than 100, but that is still just a fraction of the 600 or so the group now has in its operations.
Asked about what opportunity Bob had spotted in the market, his son said: “Dad’s foresight was to ask his customers what they needed, then go and source it rather than try to hire just what we had.”
Craig said the massive growth of the business over the decades had gone beyond his father’s initial hopes.
“It definitely exceeded them. When dad started out, his ambition was to have a small business to offer a good standard of living for his family.”
‘These were very worrying times’
Craig added the arrival of Covid-19 last year not only impacted the business in its move to a new premises.
“Business just stopped,” he added.
“Construction sites just closed. People stopped buying.
“These were very worrying times, then gradually things started coming back.
“Our skip-hire business was one of the first to start. Then the building supply merchants started to get busy.
“But our construction division wasn’t so lucky. Most of the main customers just shut the doors.”
While they have not been able to avoid the impact of Coronavirus, Craig said the business remains in a healthy position.
As restrictions continue to ease, his message was they are “very much open for business and continue to look after customers’ needs.”
A one-stop shop
The business was originally a plant-hire company when it began four decades ago.
It has grown to become a one-stop shop for all construction, recycling and haulage needs serving Fife, Central Scotland and beyond.
It also has around 400 staff across nine businesses. The Purvis family are at the heart of the operation.
Bob, now 72, remains actively involved as chairman, with Craig as managing director.
Several other members of the family are also involved with the business.
Craig’s sister, Lyn, is HR director, while her three sons, Scott, Barry and Kevin, work in the civil, transport and plant departments.
Craig’s cousin, Cameron Bell, has been with the firm for 30 years and is workshop manager, while Craig’s son Aaron works on the plant side.
“Dad oversees the overall picture and keeps us on our toes,” the managing director said.
Plans for the future
Craig wants to see the business continue to expand over the years to come.
The managing director said reasons for the continuing success of Purvis Group were hard work, commitment to look after customers and doing things well.
He added the business sectors responsible for the bulk of group turnover are plant hire and construction, but the recycling division has been strong, as has storage and distribution.
Asked where he saw Purvis Group in five years’ time, he said: “We will continue to grow our business and look out for opportunities as they come along.
“We are very fortunate to have long-serving staff with little turnover.
“We will be losing a few people over the next couple of years to retirement, but this will allow us to bring on new apprentices to follow in their footsteps.”