Far from the Madden crowd!
In a new feature in association with Renault, Professional Builder celebrates the companies that are keeping it in the family.
The building industry has always been a family affair, with a father imparting his skills and experience to his offspring a time-honoured path to business prosperity.
In fact, as new research from the Institute for Family Business (IFB) recently revealed, the family firm is a crucial component of UK PLC, accounting for 26 per cent of our entire GDP, which makes the multitude of companies like North London-based Madden Builders the engine room of our economy.
Three generations of Maddens have been plying their trades in the capital, with 64 year old Andy showing no signs of handing over the reins to son, Danny and it’s a passion for a job well done that drives both father and son onwards.
“My father, Bernard came over from Ireland in the 1940s, initially because there was a lot of work immediately after the war in repairing some of the bomb damage,” explains Andy, as he and Danny take a break from a substantial loft conversion and kitchen refurb job in Barnet.
“In his native land the Madden family association with the building industry actually goes back even further because he was one of a very long line of carpenters and, as a company, we started trading independently in the early 70s.
“We did a lot of housing association work back then but today it is all private sector work. Dealing with the client, and delivering what they want, is one of the most rewarding parts of the job for me, and we’ve got so many great references from grateful and satisfied customers.”
“Back in the 70s and 80s we would travel across practically the whole of London, but as the traffic has got worse over the years we’ve now largely confined ourselves to the Barnet area.
“Every job we win is on recommendation and word of mouth, and we’ve always had more than enough work, even in the industry’s leaner years, so there’s just no need for us to venture further.”
We asked Andy what were the particular challenges of working so closely with family members? “My father was very strict with me and in truth it’s something I’ve probably carried on with Danny, because I always wanted to teach him the right way to go about things.
I think there’s always a tendency to be harder on your own family than maybe some of the other people you would have working for you because you want them to be the best they can be.
“It’s also nice for me to be able to pass on some of the knowledge I’ve developed over the years to Danny and I’m sure my Dad felt the same way with me. Danny has also brought new ideas to the business just as I did with my father so it’s a two-way street.
“From my perspective, because the business was started by my own father, who is now no longer with us, it’s very important to me that we continue to uphold certain standards.”
As a testament to the reputation that grandfather, father and now son have built the client on the loft conversion job where we meet Danny and Andy waited a year and a half for the Madden team to become available.
“We’re honest with your clients and they trust us a consequence,” explains Andy, “and that’s why we’ve never had to advertise our services.”
“I didn’t actually go straight into the building game because I was working at County Hall for a couple of years, which I really couldn’t stand. I can remember when I first started working on site my Mum didn’t speak to me for three months because it had such a bad reputation as a profession back then.
“Things have changed now and hopefully the public recognise that builders are highly skilled people.”
“I’m thirty five now but if you count school holidays, and the times I would go to a job in the van with my Dad as a kid, then I’ve been on the firm for a very long time,” adds Danny.
“It can be challenging working with your Dad, but we do get on pretty well, and if you’re working for a firm that has the family name on it, and that your grandfather and father have strived to build up over a period of decades, that’s all the motivation you need to carry it on – what you don’t want is to be the one that jeopardises all their hard work.”
“We do everything from extensions, and basements, to loft conversions and will turn our hands to just about anything,” Danny continues.
“When you factor in the time we have to devote to estimating, in addition to actually getting the work done, you certainly have to put the hours in, but we’re fortunate that what we do is so varied that it’s genuinely very fulfilling.”
Let us know about your family business at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a Vue Cinema Family Ticket for each company we visit.
Renault Trafic at a glance
The next generation Renault Trafic could be just like one of the family for tradesmen and, with over 270 versions to choose from, it could be a vehicle perfectly tailored to the needs of your business.
A choice of short or long wheelbase, low and hight roof and load volumes from 5.2m³ to over 8m³.
Options of heavy duty ply lining, up to 18 anchorage rings, interior rack and wooden floor and mid-height side trim.
Twin Turbo technology, combined with Stop & Start and Electric Smart Management gives combined fuel consumption of up to 47.9mpg.