A north-east Wales timber company founded by a Dunkirk veteran 70 years ago has been crowned Wales’s top family business.
Denbighshire-based Clifford Jones Timber beat off stiff competition from nine other businesses from across Wales, including the Snowdonia Cheese Company and Cardiff’s Sandringham Hotel, to win the award which was presented by Family Business United at a ceremony at the May Fair Hotel in London.
The company, which now makes over four million wooden fence posts a year at its bases in Ruthin and at Gretna in the Scottish Borders are also well known for their innovative and eco-friendly approach to the business.
Richard Jones, from Wrexham, chairman of the company founded by his grandfather, said: “When we saw who we were up against we didn’t think we had much chance so we were amazed and delighted to have our name called out.
“It’s a tribute to everyone here at the business and to their hard work and to the principles and inspiring leadership of my father, Alan, and my grandfather.
“We truly are a family business as I and my sister Sarah are involved on a daily basis and my three sons are now stepping in as well so we hope to be around for many more years.”
Clifford Jones Timber began in 1948 as timber hauliers and the founder was succeeded by his son, Alan, in 1984 and three years later they took over a small sawmill in Ruthin.
Richard Jones succeeded Alan as chairman two years ago and his sister, Sarah, the commercial director, is also on the board and Richard’s son, Josh, is now spearheading a successful commercial drive as area sales manager and Josh’s brothers, James and Alex, have also joined the company.
They process over 100,000 tons of timber from sustainable forests every year and their proud boast is that every scrap of timber is used.
Their fence posts are shipped as far afield as the Falkland Islands while other clients for their timber products have included Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden programme on ITV, Center Parcs, a luxury treehouse builder, award-winning vineyards and a deck-chair company.
They have pioneered a range of laminated timber at their specialist plant in Ruthin and diversified into a range of kiln-dried Hunter’s Fuels products, and make wooden gates and garden furniture and send over 40,000 tons of residue a year for biomass pellets.
The business now employs over 70 staff at two bases, turns over more than £10 million a year and has made major investments not just in the laminating plant but also in a computer-controlled timber engineering machine, production lines, drying kilns and biomass energy.
They work closely with their customers and with Bangor University in a constant search to diversify and have launched a new brand of long-lasting fence post with a guaranteed life of up to 35 years.
This has won them major contracts to supply fence posts and when they hosted a special seminar on sustainability for the Welsh Government it attracted business leaders from all over Wales.
Richard Jones added: “We look to make the most out of the 100,000 tons of timber that comes through our gates every year and we’re always looking to add value so that even the residues we produce generate an income.
“Everything is used. That’s part of our culture because it makes good business sense and it makes sense for the planet as well.”