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Founder’s sons take over Tolent’s Teesside operations

Left to right are Tolent founder John Wood, Brims director Jason Wood, Rick Halton (who has moved from Tolent to Brims as regional director) and Richard Wood of Brims

Brims Construction, hand-in-hand with former Tolent chairman John Wood, hopes to save 150  jobs by taking over Tolent’s Teesside operations.

John Wood founded Tolent 40 years ago, retiring in 2019; his sons Jason and Richard Wood established Brims Construction 16 years ago, along with Ian Clift, and still run it.

Brims directors therefore know the Tolent staff and operations rather well.

Tolent went into administration last week with 313 of the 404 employees laid off immediately. Tolent headquarters are in Gateshead, on the Tyne, with operations in Stockton-on-Tees, Leeds and Shotton Colliery.

Tolent’s previous Teesside management team is now being re-employed by Brims, along with staff, operatives and members of the supply chain, whose aim will be to ensure minimum disruption to clients, with some sites having already returned to work on Monday 20th February.

Brims will not be taking on responsibility for reimbursing any of Tolent’s creditors.

Brims was already forecasting a turnover of £38m for this financial year (to 31st March 2023), excluding any additional Tolent Teesside revenue, which will represent a significant leap for the business, taking employee numbers from around 90 to 240..

Despite the obstacles presented by Tolent’s current legal and financial situation, the Brims team has visited all the current projects and talked to the clients involved to assure them of Brims’ competence.

Richard Wood said that Brims had been looking to expand further south anyway, with an office in Teesside, but had not envisaged it happening this way.

He said: “Following the announcement on the 13th February that Tolent had gone into administration with the loss of 350 jobs, we took action immediately as it is a company very close to our hearts. My father set Tolent up, but Ian, Jason and I all trained and worked there, with John only retiring three years ago as chairman. 

“Its unfortunate demise has provided an opportunity for the future expansion of Brims and at the same time, we are hopeful of providing secure employment for up to 150 employees moving forward.

“The former Tolent sites will be re-badged as Brims Construction and our sole aim is to save jobs with the minimum of disruption to clients. We have spent the last few days talking to clients and reassuring them that their projects will proceed as normal, with the people they have previously been dealing with.  We are confident we can minimise any job losses by quickly stepping in this way.”

Tolent’s Teesside office was working on a mix of commercial projects including a rolling programme of petrochemical maintenance works.  The value of the ongoing work is estimated to be around £15m-£20m.

Richard Wood continued: “Several clients have already recognised our new proposal is simply to provide them with the same group skillset of people but with a stronger company behind them. We have already received new orders for work, which helps save the previous workforce, for which we are all extremely grateful. We are currently dealing with the administrator, in order to buy the Tolent Teesside office building at Thornaby and it is very much our intention to put firm roots down in Teesside.”

John Wood, his father, added:  “It gives me great pleasure to be able to offer my help with these proposals, especially with Brims being central to it.  It keeps the construction heritage alive under the Brims name and it will hopefully salvage some of the work that Tolent was previously involved with.  We are confident that we will save as many site and supply chain jobs as we can and I would encourage all existing management and site staff to feel encouraged at what we are doing. 

“It is great news for the region.  We just want to save the jobs and get work back on track.”

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