Founder’s sons take over Tolent’s Teesside operations

From left to right are Tolent founder John Wood, Brims director Jason Wood, Rick Halton (who has moved from Tolent to Brims as regional manager) and Richard Wood of Brims
From left to right are Tolent founder John Wood, Brims director Jason Wood, Rick Halton (who has moved from Tolent to Brims as regional manager) and Richard Wood of Brims

Brims Construction, in partnership with former Tolent chairman John Wood, hopes to save 150 jobs by taking over Tolent’s Teesside operations.

John Wood founded Tolent 40 years ago and retired in 2019. His sons Jason and Richard Wood founded Brims Construction 16 years ago, along with Ian Clift, and still run it.

Brims managers therefore know Tolent’s staff and operations rather well.

Tolent went into administration last week with 313 of its 404 employees being made redundant with immediate effect. Tolent’s headquarters are in Gateshead, Tyne, with operations in Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds and Shotton Colliery.

Tolent’s previous Teesside management team is being re-employed by Brims, along with staff, executives and supply chain members, whose aim will be to ensure minimal disruption to customers, with some locations already back in business on Monday, February 20.

Brims will not be liable to compensate any of Tolent’s creditors.

Brims has already forecast a turnover of £38m for this financial year (to 31 March 2023), excluding any additional Tolent Teesside revenue, which will represent a significant leap for the business, taking headcount from around 90 to 240.

Despite the obstacles presented by Tolent’s current legal and financial situation, the Brims team visited all current projects and spoke with the customers involved to reassure them of Brims’ capability.

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Richard Wood said Brims had been looking to expand further south anyway, with an office in Teesside, but had not envisaged it happening this way.

He said: “Following the announcement on February 13 that Tolent had gone into administration with the loss of 350 jobs, we took immediate action as it is a company very close to our hearts. My father founded Tolent, but Ian, Jason and I all trained and worked there, with John only retiring three years ago as chairman.

“His unfortunate demise has provided an opportunity for the future expansion of Brims and at the same time, we hope to provide secure employment for up to 150 employees moving forward.

“The former Tolent locations will be re-branded Brims Construction and our sole aim is to save jobs with minimal disruption to customers. We have spent the last few days talking to customers and reassuring them that their projects will proceed as normal, with the people they have been with in the past. We are confident that we can minimize any job losses by taking quick steps in this way.”

Tolent’s Teesside office worked on a mix of commercial projects, including a rolling program of petrochemical maintenance work. The value of the work in progress is estimated to be around £15m-£20m.

Richard Wood continued: “Many clients have already recognized our new proposition is simply to provide them with the same team of people skills, but with a stronger company behind them. We have already received new orders for work, which helps to save the previous workforce, for which we are all extremely grateful. We are currently dealing with the administrator to purchase the Tolent Teesside office building in Thornaby and it is very much our intention to put down firm roots in Teesside.”

John Wood, his father, added: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to help with these proposals, especially with Brims being central to it. It keeps the manufacturing heritage alive with the Brims name and hopefully salvages some of the work Tolent was previously involved with. We are confident that we will save as many plant and supply chain jobs as we can and I would urge all existing management and site staff to feel encouraged in what we are doing.

“This is great news for the region. We just want to save the jobs and get the business back on track.”

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