According to Martyn Labrum, there’s only two ways to do a job – the right way and the wrong way – and at Labrum Engineering, only the first option is acceptable.
Specialising in gas and heating systems for the industrial and commercial sector, Martyn was joined in the company by his wife, Lynn, in the mid-Nineties and together they have built the company up to a workforce of nine engineers and a team of four administration and support staff.
Having grown in a changing industry, Labrum Engineering is now fully accredited, with SafeContractor status and is Gas Safe registered.
“Although we always specialised in gas heating systems and boilers, we have found that our specialism paid off when changes were bought about regarding who could operate in the industry” said Martyn.
At one time, all you needed was to be Corgi registered, this led to lots of people doing the training and adding gas pipework to their range of skills. Then things started to change and it became a little bit more complicated, and a lot more expensive to achieve the necessary accreditation, and so that put a lot of people off.
“We have always believed in working to the highest standards and so we met the criteria for Gas Safe and SafeContractor, and so were able to build our client base in an industry where the competition was starting to decrease.”
Reaching the level demanded by an industry where safety levels have to be second to none opened doors for Labrum Engineering.
When it came to tendering for large contracts with the likes of British Gas, the firm was ahead of the game in having processes already in place to satisfy demanding standards.
“My approach is that you don’t cut corners and don’t do things by halves, The only way to do something as far as I am concerned is the right way, and that approach has won us the reputation we have,” said Martyn.
Labrum Engineering carries out anything from installation of systems in a new building to replacement systems, servicing and maintenance of existing systems and repairs where necessary.
Winter is always a busy time, although the summer months bring them a high demand as a lot of schools and colleges prefer to have work done whilst the students are away on holiday.
There’s no geographic limits to where the company works, there’s even been talk of a contract in the Seychelles, but it is just as happy to work with a small company in a neighbouring unit on the Kings Heath Industrial Estate.
Much of its work stems from conscious effort a few years ago to look the recession in the face and take steps to make sure the company came out of the other side in good shape.
“We could see it coming, just like everyone else, so we talked about what we were going to do,” said Martyn. “In the end, we sat down with the business directory and sent out letters to every firm we could think of, hoping it would pay off.
“There were tough times, times when we wondered if it was all going to go wrong, but gradually we started to get a response and the contracts began to come in.
They might have been smaller than some of the major projects we’d worked on, but they meant that we never had to lay people off and always had work for the guys to do, and in that way we survived and now we’re through it and stronger than ever.
“The flip side of that is we did have periods when we wondered how we were going to cope with the work we had – that’s when I get my hands dirty and do some welding or pipefitting, just to make sure the job gets done on time.”
The work that Labrum Engineer does, however isn’t always seen by the wider public, as Lynn found recently when they were invited to the opening of a new factory premises, at which Labrum Engineering had just completed a new heating system for a major multi-national company.
“I’d been on site several times,” said Martyn, “but Lynn had not, and asked me to explain exactly what we had done because she couldn’t see anything.”
“The facts are, we carry out major works for companies which aren’t always on show once the project is complete.”