John Croft of Croft Conservatories talks to Gail Bailey about the long-established family business founded five generations ago
Born in Preston, John Croft was always focused on joining the family business founded by his great great grandfather Thomas Croft.
Croft’s history dates back to 1874 when Thomas Croft founded Thomas Croft and Sons, a renowned building and civil engineering company. The company had a long and illustrious existence, building many of Preston’s landmarks including the Town Hall and Municipal Buildings. It also built Blackburn Cathedral and other landmarks across the North West.
Today that fine craftsmanship continues and the company, which has evolved over the years, is proud of its wide offering of orangeries, conservatories, extensions, windows, doors and roofline products.
As the fifth generation descendant, John’s journey into the business wasn’t automatic, as he spent time learning the trade before being given the opportunity to enter the company on a permanent basis.
John attended Rossall School on the Fylde Coast from the age of eight before embarking on a degree in Construction Management and Technology at Liverpool University: “I was always interested in the family business and used to work in the showroom during my school and university holidays. My father was keen that I learnt the ropes and all facets of the industry sector,” John explains.
In order to give him the foundation he needed, John worked for George Wimpey during his sandwich year at university and was then offered a job on completion of his degree, spending a further two years with the house building firm.
“This experience gave me the skills and knowledge I needed and was the perfect pathway to my ultimate ambition to work in the family business.”
As the family business was growing and evolving, John was keen to be involved and moved to work with his father in 1994: “The move was definitely one I was ready to take, and I loved every minute,” recalls John.
John’s philosophy and basis for success very much stems from his early experiences working within the family business: “It is important to be very focused on quality and craftsmanship as well as spending time with clients to ensure there is a real understanding of their needs,” he explains. “When I started out I would never sell anything I wouldn’t be happy with myself, and that ethos continues in Croft Conservatories today.”
Being a member of the Chartered Institute of Building further demonstrates John’s dedication to his industry along with recognition of his capabilities and experience.
“Fine craftsmanship and customer service is at the heart of what we do. Our teams are frequently praised for their work – we are immensely proud of them and the fantastic work they do.”
Owning and running the business with a very hands-on approach, is time consuming. But in his spare time John is a keen follower of rugby and cricket as well as fishing as far away as Norway and even Russia!
The family tradition is continuing at Croft Conservatories with John’s wife Alli, who is an architect and designer, becoming involved with many of the projects.
“Maintaining the family thread is important,” says John, whose son is often seen in his university holidays working in the business.
And, two other members of the family are not to be forgotten – Cromwell the black Labrador and Teasel the Border Terrier can also be seen from time to time in the office!