As always he is at the heart of the job, cutting and fitting panels from a telescopic access platform – and as always he is dressed in bright orange from head to foot.
“I know I look like I’ve been Tangoed, but I won’t do anything without wearing the right protective gear,” he commented, stepping from the platform to talk about the work he is carrying out for Neil Morris at Five Oaks Farm, just outside Billingshurst in West Sussex.
Brett’s commitment to health and safety is matched by his commitment to delivering a quality service at a fair price, something which is reflected in the amount of repeat business his company, Shortland Structures Ltd undertakes.
“I work hard to keep customers happy because I want them to invite me back to deliver their next project, and so far that is a policy that has paid dividends, said Brett, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the steel-framed building business.
As an added bonus, dad Terry is never far away, and at 85 there’s not much anyone can teach him about building. “If there is an issue I’ve not come across you can bet your life he has,” Brett said.
The stable block that Shortland Structures is currently building is the fifth the company has erected at the 500 acre mixed arable and grassland farm.
“It was a simple decision for me,” commented Neil Morris. “Brett has always done what he says he is going to do and I’ve always been pleased with his work. He came to me on the back of a referral from a neighbour and I have been happy to refer him to other people.
“He uses Shufflebottom buildings, so that sets a good benchmark for the quality of the job, and his own work is second to none. He is easy to get on with, which is a benefit when discussing projects, and he is always happy to carry out smaller jobs, like replacing a damaged roof panel on one of our other buildings.”
The 60ft by 30ft stable block is being added to the side of an earlier Shortland Structures building – a 100ft by 50ft hay store – and will house three IAE Equestrian stables.
As with all his projects, Brett worked closely with the client to make sure that he delivered exactly what was wanted. “It’s important to listen carefully, talk to the customer and make sure that’s what is in his mind is what you design and subsequently deliver,” he said.
“You can contribute your experience, but at the end of the day farmers know what they want and it’s down to you to turn that vision into a reality.”
A short distance from the stable block is another new building which Shortland Structures has recently handed over to Neil, this one a 120ft by 60ft livestock building and machinery store.
The open fronted Shufflebottom building, which has a canopy to the front of it, features Ventair sheets to the rear and Jones Bros concrete panels all round.
“I tend to use Shufflebottom because the firm is reliable and good to deal with and provides good quality buildings that represent value for money,” Brett explained. “I also get very good technical support from their team.”
When it comes to customer service, Brett knows that it is particularly important when snags arise. “It’s fine when things are going well, but what matters is how you tackle the unexpected,” he said. “You need to be prepared to put yourself out to make sure any snags are dealt with quickly and without any hassle.”
Brett is particularly well known for the quality of his work in the Sussex area and has also completed five buildings for Scrase Farms in Pulborough.
Meanwhile in Kent, he and his team are working on an impressive new riding school for Emma and Martin Nuttall at White House Farm Equestrian Centre, just outside Meopham.
The 200ft by 100ft steel building is the fourth that Shortland Structures have erected at White House Farm and again highlights the value of keeping the customer happy.
“Repeat business is what every company aims for,” he said, “but it doesn’t come easily. You have to continue to work hard at doing the best possible job – and that’s always my aim.”