A family run business, which has been responsible for changing the face of the Nottingham city skyline, has just celebrated its 25th year in business, from what once started in very humble beginnings.
Total Reclaims based in Hucknall, now boasts a team of 80 staff, a head office spanning over 7,000 sqft, and ambitions to future proof the company well into its 50th year – but this is a world away from where it all began back in April 1993, in a portable classroom.
Melvyn Cross Junior, joint owner at the firm, which provides demolition and reclamation services, said: “My brother Mark and I grew up on building sites with my Dad. One of my earliest memories was cleaning bricks at seven years of age at the old Goods Yard opposite Nottingham Train Station. We used to make £7 for a pack of 400 bricks!
“When my dad, Melvyn Senior, Mark and me, started the business back in 1993, it was a no brainer, as it was all we had ever known. Later down the line, our eldest brother Gary also joined us.”
Over the years, Total Reclaims has worked on numerous iconic projects in the city of Nottingham, from deconstructing the old Odeon cinema on Angel Row to demolishing 80 premises to make way for the NET tram network.
In more recent years, the business has also demolished the Lenton Flats and is currently clearing the site of Imperial Tobacco on Triumph Road for The University of Nottingham.
Mark Cross, joint owner of the firm, said: “The early days of the business were hugely entertaining, and we still reminisce about some of the amusing things that have happened to us along the way.
“It wasn’t unusual for us to park our cars first thing in the morning and return to find a custom made moat around them, created by one of the bulldozers on site!”
Despite the good humour on site, the business today is a force to be reckoned with, employing over 40 family members, their wives and children, including Melvyn, Gary and Mark’s children – Ewan, Jamie and Maisie who were recently joined the team.
When asked about the most unusual thing he has ever seen on the job, Melvyn Cross Junior added: “We once demolished an old jewellery shop on Alfreton Road, and in the basement we found over £2000 in old green one pound notes!
“On another job at an old trophy factory in Basford, we found hundreds of brand new trophies, so we donated them to local schools. In the end, people started selling them on Ebay so we had to stop giving them away!”
He paid tribute to staff, and their longevity, saying: “There are a key bunch of people that constantly drive the business to be the best it can be:
“We take people on at the age of 16 as apprentices and nurture them. This is proven by Total Reclaims’ longest serving member of staff, Phil Richards, who has been with the company from the beginning, when he was just a 16-year-old school boy. The early days were all about learning the ropes and dealing with hurdles along the way, but today the operation runs with military precision, especially with changes in health and safety legislation.
“The future for Total Reclaims looks extremely bright indeed, the company now sees a turnover of £9.4 million in the demolition side and turns over £12 million in sister company Total Aggregates.
It is also expected that the business will be increasing its staff levels by a further 5% by the end of the year and should reach over £12Million turnover on the demolition side of the business. We look forward to seeing what the next 25 years will bring.”