An interview with Jenny and Timon Thorncroft of JT Relocations, by Ed Roberts
Jenny and Timon Thorncroft (pronounced like Simon) own and operate JT & Sons Relocations. First established in 2008, the husband and wife team set up after forging long careers within the removals industry. Recently awarded the BAR Commercial Mover of the Year Award for 2013 they spoke about what the accolade meant to them, the obstacles that were encountered on their journey so far, and their plans for the company’s future.
When quizzed about the origins of the company name there is a good degree of ambiguity. Jenny joked that when the company was doing well the ‘JT’ stood for Jenny Thorncroft, yet when it was performing less well it meant Jenny and Timon. In spite of the latter claim though, it would appear that their salad days are well and truly behind them.
Jenny explained that she had been in the removal trade since leaving school. Her first job was as a part-time secretary for an estimator at Robinsons in Bristol. Essentially, she learnt the trade and got her estimation certificate during her tenure there. In 2002, she met Timon when she transferred to Bishops in Crawley. Timon has been in the trade for over 25 years. He began as a driver and worked his way up the ranks to senior management within 15 years. He met Jenny through friends when he was based at the Brighton office and they quickly became firm friends, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 2008, they joined forces to start their own commercial movers firm, JT & Sons Relocations. 2008 was a year of global recession and a difficult time for businesses of all shapes and sizes, regardless of their trade. To start from scratch with no assets and very limited capital required both enterprise and strong spirit. With a blend of luck, good timing, industry contacts and hard work, Timon and Jenny kicked off with a large contract bank-rolled with a personal credit card. Jenny admitted that there had been a few scary moments along the way but since the initial leap of faith, they hadn’t looked back. Expecting a much lower closing figure for their sales in the first year, Timon and Jenny more than tripled their projections. Very admirable considering that all this was achieved with said credit card, a borrowed dinner table, a second hand laptop and a hatchback car.
I was keen to learn that JT & Sons’ operates without their own fleet of lorries and vans. However, there is no sub-contracting, they have their own staff of 26 packers and porters (with their own JT uniforms) based at two small depots in London and Leeds. Timon then hires drivers and vehicles from his contacts to complete the job in question. They both concur that if they had invested in their own fleet of vehicles when they set up they may have faltered. In hiring another company’s vehicles and drivers they have been able to thrive whilst being enabled to support a fellow removal company.
When asked about what separates JT & Sons’ customer service from other like companies, Jenny mentions that the company’s size has enabled them to tailor the service to the job. This has also given them an advantage in that they can give a personal approach, for example; clients can speak to the directors directly if the need arises. They also pride themselves on employing personable and approachable staff who will do their utmost to provide great service. Timon added that JT & Sons was also industry endorsed having gained the BAR BS 8522 Quality Standard within 12 months of setting up and have been prolific BAR members ever since. He mentioned that in an increasing number of cases companies are now judged by whether or not they are members of BAR. On an immediate scale, Timon added that they really care about every job they do. Also, that they ventured that individual approaches to projects had actually saved their clients money; for instance they will often do a big clean up after a move has been completed.
Earlier this year, all JT & Sons’ hard work was recognised when they won the Commercial Mover of 2013 category at the BAR annual awards. This accolade endorsed their company, letting the industry know that they had well and truly arrived. In the future, the extra kudos will help to bring in more contracts and increase industry and public awareness of their brand. They also confirmed that membership requirement of industry bodies like BAR and CMG is a must because of these reasons. Timon was councillor at CMG until May this year and he reflected on the old days and confirmed that since he’d joined the removals industry 30 years ago both CMG and BAR have become more pro-active, hosted better presentations and meetings, were more inclusive when swapping new ideas and that they now provided better help and guidance. They both stressed the importance of having the opportunity to make new contacts and maintain existing ones at their meetings and AGMs. Relationships are generally built at BAR or CMG meetings. These types of links have enabled rival companies to help each other, because potential competitors can become colleagues and allies through hiring out their resources. “This also ensures that you supply an exemplary service,” Timon explained. “This is because you don’t want to show yourself up in front of a friend and fellow mover in the trade. You have your rep to protect and maintain.”
Five years down the line from JT & Sons' birth, Jenny confessed that lady luck had had her hand in events, but at the same time they would not have been able to succeed without their existing skills and industry savvy. She also mentioned that both herself and Timon were born under the same star sign of Leo that bestows passionate and proud yet caring qualities to all they put their minds to. Timon also suggested that luck is generated by hard work. So in essence the JT & Sons’ story so far has been shaped with 50% hard graft and 50% good luck.
The future is looking very bright for Jenny, Timon and the rest of the staff at JT & Sons. They are looking to expand and to build relationships with BAR associated companies in the north of England. They also share the importance of sticking to their existing business model by resisting the need to own their own fleet of vehicles. Timon underlined the point “JT & Sons Relocations are living proof that you don’t need your own vehicles to succeed in the industry”.
With their past successes stacked up and new challenges to conquer on the immediate horizon, the Mover Magazine hazard a guess that the ‘JT’ in the company name will ‘unofficially’ stand for Jenny Thorncroft for a long time to come. Poor Timon!
Photos: Jenny Thorncroft
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