When Roger Bayly needed a reliable, experienced, multi-skilled construction company to tackle a challenging building project in 2016, he turned to Ashford-based G J Elgar Construction.
The Hawkinge, Kent, arable farmer was back on the phone to Graham Elgar in 2018 when he needed another building at St John’s Farm – and again in 2022 when he was planning an even bigger expansion to his impressive grain store complex.
As repeat customers go, Roger is one of G J Elgar’s biggest, but he is far from unique. “We do get a lot of repeat business from satisfied customers,” said Graham, still fully involved in the business he set up 40 years ago despite having turned 70.
While he continues to play a hands-on role in the business, undoubtedly one of the biggest of its kind in the South East with its workforce of 38 skilled people, Graham is quick to hand much of the credit to that closely knit team.
“You can’t do anything without the right people working for you,” he explained. “It’s not about me; it’s about the whole team and the contribution they make to ensuring that G J Elgar retains the reputation for quality workmanship it has built up over the past 40 years.”
It’s not been an easy journey, but Graham is proud of what he has built up and proud of the fact that he has grown the business organically, by reinvesting rather than borrowing. He’s also made sure that the rest of the team understands the ethos that drives him and underpins the company.
“I like to promote people from within the business as that means they understand how we work and the quality we insist on,” he explained. It’s an approach that certainly paid off with Neil Elliott, who joined the company getting on for ten years ago as a steel erector and cladder and is now a director and Graham’s right hand man.
Louise Elgar, Graham’s daughter-in-law, joined the company as finance director at the same time as Neil, while Ian Jones, groundworks operations manager, and Blake Hegarty, sheeting operations manager, play a vital role in the business, which also relies on the organisational skills of Lisa Elliott and Wendy Dowling in the office.
At St John’s Farm, the 2016 project saw G J Elgar Construction take down a large concrete-framed barn which had sustained impact damage and needed to be carefully demolished before being replaced with a 60m X 30m galvanised steel framed building which is eight metres to the eves to allow grain to be tipped under cover.
Two years later the company doubled the size of that building, adding another 60m X 30m barn alongside it, and in 2022 it was asked to take down the last of the old concrete barns at St John’s Farm and replace it with a 66m X 36m end extension to the existing building. Graham’s team has also refurbished another building attached to the barn to create offices, a workshop and storage facilities, installed a weighbridge and laid a new concrete apron around the whole complex.
G J Elgar Construction operates across the whole of the South East and into Essex and offers full turnkey projects across agricultural, industrial and commercial sectors.
Other current projects include major conversion works at Watershall Farm, Monkton, in East Kent, where Baxter Farms has brought Graham’s team in to convert a range of grain, onion and potato stores into light industrial units, together with a new access road, yard and electric security gates.
“This was another example of repeat business,” explained Graham. “We did a similar conversion project for Baxter Farms at Sarre Business Centre in 2020, and when changing farming practices meant they wanted to create similar units at Watershall Farm, they called us back in.”
G J Elgar Construction has also recently built a side extension, removed asbestos and reclad an industrial building for David Payne and Son Coachbuilders at Aylesford in Kent.