Case Study

Overview

For over 30 years, we have been consistently redefining what it means to build with timber. Our confidence lies in our experience and unmatched creativity in designing and crafting purposeful and beautiful buildings. We collaborate with the country’s best and brightest architects to bring innovation and passion to design and timber framing. Together we create stunning places to live and work. We are proud to have won RIBA Awards and to have featured on multiple Grand Designs. Our reputation is built on the strengths of our team. A family of inventors, visionaries  and exemplary makers; we are Carpenter Oak. Over 30 years, we have developed workshops employing over 70 colleagues in Devon, Cornwall, Wiltshire and Angus (Scotland). We have established teams of designers, carpenters, and project managers. We partner with architects, engineers and contractors in all disciplines. You will be hard-pushed to find a friendlier group of people.

 

The Story Behind the Company

We have been dedicated to delivering visionary oak framed buildings since 1987. As pioneers of exceptional timber engineering you can find the work of Carpenter Oak in buildings across the UK and overseas. The original team of founders & owners championed design and craft across timber construction. In 2016, they reunited after a period of independent development, and continue to put professional creativity at the heart of this vibrant company. With a uniquely skilled team unmatched in the sector, Carpenter Oak started the journey to employee-ownership in 2017. This means that employees have an increasing role in how the company is developed into the future and the current owners have the opportunity to exit without the unique business and culture being broken up or sold.

Employee Ownership Structure

Our collaborative and creative ethos took a significant step forward in 2017, when Carpenter Oak started the journey to becoming employee-owned. For a company that consciously steers away from a faceless corporate approach, this is an important commitment to remaining ‘hands-on’ in all aspects of our business. This ethos has been at the forefront of the founders and original directors, ensuring that the culture feels like a family. In the process of moving towards employee ownership, an employee council has been set up and will have an employee representative on the board by the end of 2018. This for many is important but for Carpenter Oak it’s essential that we maintain the existing culture whilst also enabling and promoting employee ownership.

C4C’s Role

C4C invested £400,000 for 30% of Carpenter Oak in June 2017.This capital was primarily used to develop the business by financing the merger of Carpenter Oak and Carpenter Oak & Woodland. Both businesses were previously one company and after 15 years of separate development, remerged. C4C has played a critical role within the merger as well as helping to set up and evolve the employee ownership structure in a transition to majority ownership by all employees, through a hybrid mixture of Trust & individual ownership.

 

Culture

At the heart of the success of Carpenter Oak is the team; the people that create the amazing designs and craft stunning frames. Our commitment to our clients is driven by expert project managers, skilled carpenters and experienced designers (to name but a few). They maintain the values of the business as Carpenter Oak changes and evolves.   We believe that employee-ownership is better business – for us and our clients. Loyalty to our values and our techniques provides a solid foundation for all of our employees. From this firm basis, our staff can add to and benefit from the 30 years of invaluable experience within the company. For our clients it means stability, ensuring that the specialist skills needed to deliver their project will always be on hand through Carpenter Oak.

It is a good thing to have more engaged staff. They are happier, more creative. This means we keep producing the exceptional designs and the uniquely crafted buildings that our clients love and why they love working with us. We think that a company in ‘the hands of the many’ is particularly important within an ever changing building industry. Our unfaltering honesty and integrity is crucial to the success of each project. The process of evolving a company through employee-ownership brings forward new ways of discussing and deciding on the future of our work, and supports innovation in developing our products and services. It means that we strengthen what we offer as our team expands and our tool box grows.

 

Key Successes

● Regularly winning RIBA awards (most recently Brixton Department store)

● Merger of Carpenter Oak and Carpenter Oak & Woodland

● Rebrand launch Summer 2018

Following a financially difficult period from late 2017 to early 2018, including  considerable consolidation, the business is now in a strong position moving forward,  with opportunities for growth and personal development.   It has recently started offering and successfully building complete bespoke homes with plans to further grow this aspect of the business. We look forward with  excitement to these opportunities and challenges.

 

Luke Copley-Wilkins

Luke Copley-Wilkins

Managing Director

 

01803 732 900

Carpenter Oak Limited, The Framing Yard, East Cornworthy, Totnes, Devon, TQ9 7HF