Many skilled builders began their careers in Beeks’ apprenticeship scheme

APPRENTICESHIP numbers saw a drastic drop through the building recessions of recent decades, but IL Beeks stayed committed to offering young people the opportunity to learn a skilled trade. Mark Beeks was the company’s first Apprentice Carpenter, starting in 1983 and winning the Apprentice of the Year award. Mark went on to become Contracts Director and Joint MD, retiring in 2013 after 30 years’ dedicated service to the company. Paul Beeks then took on the role of sole Managing Director.

Tim Werrell became a Beeks Carpentry Apprentice 28 years ago. He is now Contracts Manager for all the company’s building projects and oversees all construction matters, ably assisted by director Steve Wallington who has been with the company for 36 years.

Tim recalls: “I had started on a site management course with a national company but wasn’t getting enough practical experience of the trade and asked Ivor for advice. He offered me a three-year carpentry apprenticeship. “I learnt the trade, then stayed on as I liked the way the company worked and looked after its people. I was able to move into site management and am now head of construction, looking after the whole operation outside the office.”

The role includes overseeing the care of each new batch of apprentices. “We usually have a couple of apprentices here at any one time, as we have over the past 40 years. Some are bricklayers, but most are carpenters and they see how all the trades work. Many go on to become foreman or site manager. Nick, my first apprentice, is now head carpenter.”

Does he recommend a building apprenticeship for young people? “If they are practically minded, it’s a very good option – if they can learn to cope with the vagaries of the weather! Some apprentices are more technical, others aspire to move into management. The opportunities to move on are there, and Beeks is proactive in training you up. Two won the Apprentice of the Year award. We give them a good grounding and a wealth of knowledge.”

Nick keeps in touch with most of his former apprentices. One travelled around the world working in British embassies, some moved on to project management or to university, and others work for themselves. But many choose to stay on at Beeks. “It’s a family business and once in you become part of a close team. The management are loyal and they expect loyalty back. In many building companies people move on – here, they may stay for decades!”

Training craftsmen for the future

Former and current apprentices: Dan Maude, Nick Smith, Zack Beeks and Tim Werrell