Heating firm passes reins to new generation
A couple who have built up one of the region's best-known heating companies are handing over to the next generation of their family after 43 years at the helm.
Chris and Beryl Bumford started Bumford Heating back in 1968 and since then the Barnsley firm has installed around 60,000 systems in homes across the area.
The couple, both 68, are scaling down their responsibilities to make way for new managing director Neil, 38, their eldest son, and finance director, daughter Anna Kirby, 35. Their other children Beth Phillips, 36, and Robin, 32, are also involved in the business.
With business support from Enterprising Barnsley and growing online sales and renewable energy projects, the family firm is looking to a bright future very different to where the story began.
Chris and Beryl were a young couple living in Sheffield when plumber Chris decided to set up his own business with a bank loan for £250. His first few jobs were for friends but slowly the business grew and Beryl joined full-time.
By 1983, now with four children, the couple moved their outfit to Hoyland in Barnsley. The workforce was mostly engaged on British Coal-funded projects for miners' homes. However this meant that the Miners' Strike in 1984 hit hard and almost sent the venture under.
Fortunately work on providing gas central heating for new housing provided a lifeline in the years that followed and, during the 1990s, graduate Neil joined and moved the operation beyond installations by selling plumbing and heating supplies online.
Today Bumford Heating is based at Shortwood Business Park, Hoyland. Its engineers install the most advanced and energy efficient gas, oil and solid fuel appliances and are also specialists in renewable energy, including solar panels which let natural sunlight produce hot water.
The contracts department is involved in high profile developments including work for councils and national builders.
The online side of the business has grown year on year and has a multi-million pound turnover, selling products to places as far afield as New Zealand, Dubai and the United States. A team of ten staff are dedicated to BHL.co.uk, which sells 100,000 different products, plus the group's other niche websites.
Chris said: "When I first started out, I don't think I had any idea what a long, hard slog running a business was going to be. We've both worked very long hours and, for a number of years, went without a proper holiday. There have been some really tough times when our home was held against our bank overdraft but we've succeeded.
"I think the biggest lesson I've learned, and I'm very much still learning, is that you have to prepared to change as challenges come along."
Beryl added: "I'm really proud of what we've achieved over the years and the reputation we've built for quality workmanship and being trustworthy. The time has come for us to take a back seat and hand over to the next generation and, with 12 grandchildren, there is no shortage of other natural suitors in the future!"
Specialists from business support organisation Enterprising Barnsley have provided coaching to help Bumford Heating grow further. This has included sales and HR support.
Neil said: "We're in a great position going forward. We have a strong heritage thanks to the hard work of my parents and an exciting future, especially around renewable energy. It's been really helpful to have this support from Enterprising Barnsley which gives us another perspective on things."
Enterprising Barnsley is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield's Barnsley Campus.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme has attracted £2.89m investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe's support for the region's economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
For more information about Bumford Heating, visit www.bumfords.com or call 01226 749300. For more information about Enterprising Barnsley go to www.enterprisingbarnsley.co.uk or contact Shaun Higginbottom on 01226 787949 or at firstname.lastname@example.org