Together with his brilliant team (the girls in the office couldn’t be more helpful), they helped me through the purchase and have also removed the rest of the stress of running the business.
Paul Barnes, the owner of Barnes Fencing Supplies, has been a client of Meades and Co for nearly 10 years. We asked him to share a little bit about the Barnes story for your education and entertainment.
Imagine a world where there had only been one Great War, Charlie Chaplin’s ‘City Limits’ was the big screen blockbuster, Al Capone has just been sentenced to 11 years in prison, and Post & Gatty are completing the first ever round the world flight in a single-engined plane. That is when Paul Barnes’ Great Grandfather first started out in the fencing business, leading the way for the next four generations of Barnes.
Two years ago, Paul’s son (Paul Junior) joined the family business, making five generations and eighty-five years of experience and expertise. It is hard to say if any of Mr Barnes’ (senior, senior, senior) fences are still standing, but the business has certainly gone from strength to strength ever since.
Here are a few of his secrets:
What has been the biggest change in the business?
“About nine years ago I decided it was finally time to get ‘off the tools.’ So we purchased a fencing yard and began supplying the local community, domestically and commercially, with fencing materials and other products. It was a significant investment for me personally, with a degree of risk, but Meades and Co had gone through the numbers so I was confident we could make it work.”
And has it worked?
“Absolutely! In the last ten years, we have tripled our turnover and the team has grown substantially. We now have two full-time crews out erecting fences, laying decking, putting up sheds and doing all manner of other jobs for our customers. The yard has never been busier, the banter never more fun and the Barnes name never more widespread. It still amazes me how far people come, both homeowners and tradespeople, specifically to buy our products.“
Do you have any big name customers?
“It depends on what you mean by ‘big name.’ We look after a few large building companies, but all of our customers are important to us, especially those we have been looking after for generations. We have built fences for a few ‘old school’ comedians over the years, including Ernie Wise, Kenneth Williams, and Ronnie Barker – all of whom had houses locally. We also supply Pinewood Studios with wood for their film sets from time to time.”
What business lesson could you share with Meades’ other customers?
“Get a good night’s sleep! When I started in the business, in 1975, I took on the accountant that my Father and his Father before him had been using. He was great at ‘keeping me legal’ and ‘ticking the boxes’ but I didn’t really know what else an accountant could do for me. When he passed away, around ten years ago, and his daughter took over the practice, it coincided with me thinking about buying the yard. She felt this was too big a step for her to deal with so I started looking around. Having known Paul Meades previously as a friend I thought I’d give him a call and it was clear that he knew what he was talking about. Together with his brilliant team (the girls in the office couldn’t be more helpful), they helped me through the purchase and have also removed the rest of the stress of running the business. I genuinely do sleep well every single night without giving my business a second thought. Paul looks after everything and lets me know the results as and when I need them. So, my advice is to find a way to get a good night’s sleep!”