A North Wales construction company is building careers as well as homes as part of a major expansion across the region.
The Brenig Group, based in Mochdre, near Colwyn Bay, is at work on a major passive housing development for leading housing association Cartrefi Conwy in Llanrwst where the company has five young staff on site.
They range from quantity surveyor Caroline Thomas, from Prestatyn, to local man Dan Doble, from Llanrwst, who swapped the retail trade for bricks and mortar and is now part of Brenig’s groundworks team.
Brenig Health and Safety and Training Manager Adam Jones said: “We do have a real commitment to training and upskilling our staff because they are the lifeblood of the industry.
“There is a good mix here at Llanrwst, working hard to build careers and it is vital not just to us but to the construction industry that we invest in these young people.
“Many of them have tried other things and found it wasn’t for them and we’ve given them the chance to start again and we’re very pleased with the progress they’re making.”
Dan Doble had worked in Aldi in Llandudno but in the pandemic the 28-year-old who lives in a Cartrefi Conwy property in Llanrwst found out about the opportunities with Brenig locally.
He began as a gateman checking Covid protocols, then moved to the groundworks team and he said: I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity. It’s opened a lot more doors for me.
“I was on a short-term contract to begin with but now I’m on the staff and am looking to progress.
“I’ve trained on a dumper and I’m learning something new every day and I’m ging to move onto the telehandler and other machines which is great.
“I had always worked in retail before but I prefer this.”
Caroline, 29, from Prestatyn, a trainee quantity surveyor, is also studying for a BSc in surveying and hopes to graduate in two years and six months later to be a chartered surveyor.
She said: “I had always struggled to finds something interesting that I wanted to do.
“I had done care work and had thought about nursing until I took an admin job with Watkin Jones in their Quantity Surveying department and I loved it.
“The moment they rolled out the architect’s drawings at Watkin Jones I realised that this was what I wanted to do.
“Then I saw an advert for Brenig and it has just gone from there and now they’ve given me the chance to do the chartership and I just love it.
“No two sites are ever the same and no two days are ever the same.
“I’ve also become involved with presentations at schools because I wish someone had done it when I was in school because there are lots of opportunities for women in construction and no real barriers.
“Just because I’m little and a girl doesn’t mean I can’t do the job and climb up the scaffolding – I want to show people, especially young girls, that they can do it too.”
Phil Jones, 33, from Old Colwyn, swapped working in a car bodyshop for tiling three years ago and he said: “I hurt my back in the gym and decided to try something different so I started with Brenig on a 12-month contract through Creating Enterprise.
“Three years on I’m still with them, working on my own now and still enjoying the job and I’ve been putting stone cladding on some of the buildings here which has been really interesting.
“I did joinery in college but then went into body repair which is quite detailed work and I did that for six years.
“Tiling is something similar. Your have to have an eye for detail and I think that suits me”
Trainee site manager Guto Rowlands, 20, from Moelfre, on Anglesey, joined Brenig three years ago , from Coleg Menai Llangefni where he did a Level Three in Professional Construction.
He said: “I had always wanted to work in construction and really enjoyed the course I was on and should gain my Level Four HNC in Construction in a couple of months.
“Here I help oversee the progress of the site and am involved in the ordering of materials, Health and Safety, managing the sub-contractors and checking the quality of their work so there is always something to do.”
Liam Carroll, 22, from Colwyn Bay, had tired of bar work when he saw a job in general construction and now’s part of the groundworks team working on the redevelopment of the Glanrafon site in Llanrwst.
He said: “I have gained my Level Two as a Construction Site Operative and I’ve really enjoyed working for Brenig.
“It’s good being outdoors and being active and hands on instead of sat behind a desk.
“I’ve been doing kerb-laying and pipework here and will soon be undergoing training on machines – that is the next step for me.”
Adam Jones added: “There are so many different opportunities in construction and we work closely with Cartrefi Conwy housing association and with their subsidiary Creating Enterprise to find young people who want to turn jobs into careers.
“As a company we are progressive and are very involved in passive housing schemes here at Llanrwst, in Denbigh and in Old Colwyn which we see as the future of the industry and we need young people to make that future happen.”
The Brenig Construction Group, based in Mochdre, near Colwyn Bay, was established by joint managing directors Mark Parry and Howard Vaughan who first met as six-year-olds at their local youth club in Glan Conwy in 1987.
They both qualified as civil engineers before being reunited at Dawnus Construction which they left to found Brenig in 2012 and the company now employs over 70 staff and is turning over £20 million a year, with an order book bulging with £60 million of work.