From Humble beginnings
In 1920 Arnold Laver returned from the Great War in Germany. He announced to his father that, instead of rejoining the family business, he intended to use his savings to start up as a timber merchant. The response was "Don't come crawling back here when it's gone."
He never had to! The first site was in Heeley, Sheffield where Arnold "took off his coat and fenced it himself". Customers paid cash in advance so Arnold could buy the wood to fulfil their order. Deliveries were made by hand cart. Within the year they were doing well enough to buy machinery such as a saw bench and planer and buy their first horse "Charlie" to make deliveries.
The Laver family
Although Mr. Arnold Laver passed away in 1971, the Laver family have continued to keep the traditional values that he instilled. Alan Laver took over the running of the business from his father and now the third generation of the family, David Laver and Andrew Laver all help to keep the business growing. The TTJ Timber & Wood Products once said of the company "...it has a comforting old fashioned commitment to customer service" There is no doubt that these essential family values have helped to build Arnold Laver into the company that it is today. One of the leading Independent timber merchants in the UK.
Growth through determination
Determination and sheer hard work saw the business grow. When asked what hours they worked, Arnold Laver always gave the same answer "24 hours a day, and don't be late in the morning!" Billy Walker, one of Arnold Laver's first employees remembers "We worked long hours, we worked hard, we were keen to see the business succeed. All simply because the man at the top worked just as long, just as hard and was just as determined that the firm would prosper." And prosper it did. Before long the Heeley site just wasn't big enough.
In 1925 Arnold Laver began negotiations to purchase a much larger site on Bramall Lane. Billy Walker remembers his thoughts on first seeing the new site "...I gazed at this vast empty space and wondered how we were ever going to fill it" But they soon did and in 1927 the new Olympic Sawmills were up and running.
From strength to strength
From these humble beginnings Arnold Laver & Co Ltd and the Arnold Laver Group have grown into the Company that we know today. Over the years, Arnold Laver & Co Ltd have acquired depots in locations throughout the country. Growth initially was limited to the Yorkshire region, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds, Hull and then later Chesterfield in Derbyshire.
During the 1990's a presence in the Reading area was established to help service the south of the country, and the acquisition of the Birmingham Boards group of businesses in 1995, gave the Company a presence in both the West Midlands area and further south in Kidderminster. In 2000 we acquired a further business on the outskirts of Manchester at Cadishead. In 2003 we made a £1 million investment and opened our National Production Centre, based at Mosborough Sheffield. This mill produces all of the standard machined stock for the entire Group, delivering economies of scale that can be passed on to our customers, who can be assured of a fast turnaround, excellent quality and a service that's unrivalled anywhere within the UK
During 2004 we acquired a firm just south of the river Tyne, which has given us a foothold in the North East of England, whilst in 2008 we established a new concern in Rainham, Essex. From here we have established our presence in the South-East and capitalised on the boom in Olympic-related construction activities in the run-up to the London 2012. This depot was the first timber merchant in the UK to stock and sell 'certified only' timber and timber based products. We also have opened up our Bristol depot in April 2016 which allows us to better serve our customers in the South-West. Our most recent depot we have launched was in September 2017 in Borehamwood, north London. in October 2019 we opened our TimberWorld Coventry branch, followed by our TimberWorld Peterborough branch in November 2019.
The National Timber Group
In 2018 Arnold Laver merged with The National Timber Group to create the largest independent timber distribution business in the UK. With combined revenue approaching £250 million, the new enlarged Group has 52 distribution and processing sites extending from the north of Scotland to London and the South West and over 1300 employees. The transaction is being supported by further investment from Cairngorm Capital Partners LLP.
Andrew Laver explained, “Once we had taken to decision to consolidate our interests, our priority was to find a partner with shared goals and values who would help our timber business to fulfil its potential. Both companies have much in common in terms of heritage, outstanding product quality and a commitment to the highest standards of customer service, which makes this merger a very good fit. I am confident that the business is in very capable hands and that it will continue to thrive and prosper.”
Rob Barclay, Group Chief Executive of The National Timber Group said, “We are delighted to partner with Arnold Laver and welcome them to the Group. The merger is highly complementary – together, we are able extend our presence nationwide, pursue further growth and are well positioned to capitalise on the market leading position we have established. Additionally, our values, vision and commitment to customers are completely aligned, which creates exciting opportunities for us both.”
Products & Service
Our product and service offer has continued to expand as we seek to progressively develop our client base.
Facilities now offered in the Group include;
- Timber treatment and finishing
- Bespoke machining
- Fire retardants
- Door and door-set servicing
- Panel and component manufacture
Products - As well as the ongoing development of our timber and timber based product offer, we have also introduced specialist divisions to the Group that provide our customers with an even more expansive range of services.
Laver Timber Systems - bespoke manufacture of engineered floor systems and roof trusses for the commercial and domestic markets.
IT - We have invested heavily in class leading IT systems that can provide customers with all the information they need, when they need it, through a secure on-line portal. Our Extranet facility allows customers to view live account information, order processing details, real-time stocks, management information and vehicle tracking. Whilst our ability to trade electronically through systems such as COINS and EDI, ensures we are easy to trade with.
Logistics - Our fleet of more than 150 vehicles delivers over 25,000 drops per month. With satellite tracking and smart software utilised to ensure cost effective route planning and maximum fuel efficiency.
Responsible purchasing, and selling, is the cornerstone of our business. Over 90% of the material we supply is certified and we are completely committed to protecting the environment. Our policy is to continually improve our environmental performance, preventing pollution and minimising the impact of our operations. We also strive to meet and where possible exceed the applicable environmental legislation.
We strongly believe that it is our corporate and social responsibility to help preserve the world forests and promote effective forestry management.
Whilst it's almost impossible to predict the future, we do know that we will continue to evolve and develop as a business, supplier and employer; whilst striving to achieve our aim of being 'the first choice Company in all that we do, by making it easy for our customers to trade with us'