Well, that’s certainly the case for entrepreneur and successful businessman James Kirby who heads up Stirlin Developments, ostensibly a construction and development company based on Doddington Road on the outskirts of Lincoln operating a growing fleet of Volvo Construction Equipment products.
We spoke to James Kirby to find out what drives the company’s success which generated a handsome turnover of £3.5M in 2016.
Having left school James started work with the family firm which was involved in selling and fitting kitchens. From there he turned his hand to window fitting and undertook installation contracts for the local council. James then had the opportunity to assist managing an equestrian centre, which for a couple of years was a full-time effort. His break into property development came when the equestrian centres management company applied for, and got planning approval for a change of use of the existing agricultural buildings into light industrial units.
A relationship break up brought about new challenges, and further opportunity. It was 2007 and the financial crash had just happened. “I came home that evening, watched the news headlines then switched to Emmerdale pretending it wasn’t happening,” says James. But undaunted, he pushed on and under the auspices of his company Stirlin Developments, started acquiring and developing mostly brownfield sites the following year. “Understanding the needs of the local property market really paid dividends especially getting through the financial crisis. Working with local trades people - they supporting us and vice versa has helped us to nurture a thriving environment for all associated businesses in the locality which continues to this day.”
One such provider is Rickmar Plant Sales Ltd, Volvo CE’s utility dealer covering Lincolnshire and Derbyshire. “We’ve had and continue to have a terrific relationship with Ady Brodrick and the team at Rickmar. We like to commit to companies like this who treat us fair and square,” continues James. Stirlin’s first Volvo came in the guise of five tonne ECR50D which was delivered in 2014. “Up unto that point we didn’t really own any mobile plant, hiring machine in instead so it was a bit of a leap into the dark owning our own digger! We looked closely at the market place but wanted to aim at the top end and ally Stirlin Developments with a quality brand. To be honest, we couldn’t have asked for a better combination of good product and a really responsive and attentive dealer such as Rickmar.”
Following the initial purchase three years ago, Stirlin Developments has gone on to acquire a range of Volvo excavators and two DD25double drum tandem rollers. The company now has the original ECR50D together with three larger, reduced swing excavators in the ECR58D and two ECR88Ds, the slightly smaller two and a half tonne ECR25D and an EC18D. Recently delivered, Rickmar Plant Sales Ltd, with Volvo CE’ s mutual agreement, has supplied a fourteen tonne EC140E and has a larger sixteen tonne EC160E on order for Stirlin Developments. “For us it made perfect sense to allow Rickmar to extend beyond their usual product portfolio due to the close relationship they have nurtured with James Kirby and his team at Stirlin,” comments Dealer Development Manager Charlie Flaws. “It’s in everyone’s interest in these situations to allow one point of frictionless contact for the customer.”
Part of the decision making process to opt for the Volvo product was in part due to Stirlin Development’s construction director Anthony Jones. “Anthony has plenty of experience in operating plant and he rates the Volvo offering very highly,” continues James. “So again, I looked to his input in the selection process and he concurred that the Volvo product has a sound pedigree in terms of reliability, they look aesthetically good and above all can return at least 50% on their original purchase price after three years of wear and tear.”
The recent machines have been ordered to coincide with the company’s latest venture - striking out in to the domestic sector offering a complete design and build package from groundworks and utilities through to topping out and final landscaping on prestigious home developments – again all in the Lincolnshire locality. “We pride ourselves on being a locally bred company delivering jobs and development for local trade skills and where always possible, sell a freehold property to the end user,” says James. “We are definitely not land barons developing property to gain extortionate rents but rather, more interested in giving back to like-minded individuals or businesses such as ourselves to thrive and prosper. Understanding this and the local market you are working in has led quite simply to the success of Stirlin Developments. Within our current portfolio we have our design and build division which is supported by Stirlin Civils, joinery, plumbing and heating, electrical and our recently launched plant hire division – in fact everything and anything we need to build state of the art prestigious properties for the domestic and commercial sectors,” he continues.
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