New centre opening brings curtain down on 60 years of business in Bromsgrove for Clark brothers - The Bromsgrove Standard

New centre opening brings curtain down on 60 years of business in Bromsgrove for Clark brothers

Bromsgrove Editorial 22nd Jun, 2023 Updated: 22nd Jun, 2023   0

THE OFFICIAL opening of the Buntsford Business Centre is the latest development by brothers Douglas and Malcolm Clark who are finally calling ‘time’ on their commercial journey.

For more than 60 years, the Clarks have brought significant prosperity to Bromsgrove and other nearby towns, so it’s fitting that 60 makes it a diamond occasion.

Douglas will tell you with a smile that they are proud of their rough diamond heritage of – in his words – ‘a couple of Clampetts from Chaddesley’.

He started work at Rednal garage in 1959 as a self taught mechanic in addition to playing lead guitar in a rock ’n’ roll band.

He chose mechanics over possible stardom and 60 years later, that has proved to be a very wise decision.

Malcolm joined him as soon as he was old enough and they have enjoyed a life-long, unconditional friendship as well as an enduring business partnership.

The brothers have had an uncanny knack of recognising opportunities, whether this was in garages, dealerships, or other commercial projects.

Golden rules being never acting on a whim or a blind gamble – always do extensive research, carefully chosen partnerships and total commitment to the project in hand.

If it was a custom-led business, then the customer always came first.

Putting the funding in place

Opportunities need funding and Doug admits the brightest move they made in the early 80s was to set up a self-administered pension scheme.

This was something they were introduced to by Lloyds TSB financial wizard Robin Hunter, where accumulated profits were put straight into the SAPS (later to become a SIPP) and then used to buy and develop land and businesses. Interest was charged by the fund on the loan and that too was re-invested.

It so happened that a looming catastrophe brought with it a solution.

The council let the Clarks know that a bombshell was about to be announced – Bromsgrove’s biggest employer and cornerstone of the local economy, the car component manufacturer ‘Garringtons’ (founded in 1948) announced it was to close with the loss of 500 jobs.

Sad though this was, Douglas and Malcolm saw an opportunity to develop a prosperous new business area.

The main Garringtons factory was located in Sherwood Road, Aston Fields.

Clark’s, together with Bromsgrove District Council executives Bob Lewis and Bob Bradshaw, devised a plan to develop the area.

The prime objective was to provide new opportunity to both existing and fledgling companies to thrive in a brand new purpose-built environment.

The Safeway deal was also struck and the Clarks’ BW-SIPP got the site needed for the designated purpose and much more besides.

Creating local jobs

The arrival of Safeway created many new jobs for local people and brought food shopping to the community on the town’s outskirts. Now, of course, Safeway is Morrisons.

As part of the new Aston Road development, a sewage plant became highly visible.

Clark’s screened this by planting numerous evergreens so it became unobtrusive.

Today this has matured where it is not only a complete screen but has also become a unique haven for wildlife.

Another part of the scheme was the highly praised Silver Birches Business Park which included a conference centre and an assortment of multi-purpose units.

Clark’s BW-SIPP also constructed most of the other buildings which have mushroomed around the Aston Road area.


Providing for the community

As well as its business acumen, Clark’s had an equally unique approach to charity, for example through the pioneering ‘Clark’s in Schools’.

Through this project, Clark’s has given significant funding to local Bromsgrove state schools for the sole purpose of buying equipment which was not provided by the system.

They have enabled schools to purchase arts equipment such as pottery kilns and technology, such as high-speed computers for the classroom.

Douglas Clark talked at school assemblies on a weekly basis, inspiring young imaginations to prepare themselves for the business world waiting for them once they left academia.

In addition to the schools project, they also provided two 18-seater coaches for clubs and community groups to use free of charge.

This included taking the elderly on excursions, schools on trips to museums, art galleries and theatres and sports clubs to out-of-town matches.

And Clark’s BW-SIPP became the major sponsor of Bromsgrove Football Club and even repainted the stands at one point.

Looking back

Douglas and Malcolm look back on this time with great pride – they brought diversity, employment and opportunity.

It was a major turning point that helped achieve near zero unemployment in Bromsgrove.

At its peak, Clark’s employed 460 full-time people and many more part-timers.

They purchased locally, wherever possible, and were always mindful of ‘Community First’.

Clark’s was the first local company to achieve the prestigious ‘Investors in People’ status.

Buntsford Business Centre

Buntsford Business Centre incorporates the core values the Clarks have put into all their business developments – uniqueness in design, constructed of quality materials and providing the most modern opportunity to the latest generation of Bromsgrove business entrepreneurs.

Any regrets?

When asked this question, Douglas said: “Just one really – when MG Rover collapsed, we put a bid in to take it over which was rejected.

“I think had we been successful, cars would still be being made in Longbridge today.”

One thing is for sure – 60 years of business creating and enterprise in Bromsgrove must surely put the Clark brothers high up on the pedestal for bringing prosperity to the town.

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