The Burgess Grouphave been supplying and installing beautiful timber windows and doors to homeowners across East Anglia for nearly twenty years. I meet Managing Director, Edward Burgess at his Woodbridge showroom located at Notcutts Garden Centre. Whilst sitting at his desk with his dog, Olive, I empty his stylish Mulberry Satchel, and chat with him about his business and background.
Edward at his Woodbridge showroom
“Many years ago, whilst still at school I was looking for a part time job and noticed an advertisement for ‘canvassers’. The hourly rate was equal to the amount I earned for a full night’s work washing up at the Singing Chef restaurant. This seemed too good to be true but I soon answered the ad. I made arrangements to go for an interview, but the slightly bewildering thing was that Woodbridge School had never taught me what a canvasser was or indeed the merits of double-glazing.
“Having arrived for the interview, unknowing what on earth the job role entailed, I was passed a script to read, and within half an hour I was being dropped off on a housing estate with pen and pad in hand.
I had to knock on the doors of the unsuspecting public, offering them the chance to receive a quotation for double glazed windows – it must be said I was not always met with a friendly and welcoming smile, but I persevered all the same!
“Enjoying my part-time canvassing job, I soon realised a job in sales probably suited me. After departing my school at the age of sixteen, I took a full time role with a national window company. I progressed from knocking on doors to managing a team, and then moving onto sales. After gaining experience and building up important contacts I decided to go it alone and set up my own business – I was far to naïve at the time to worry about the pitfalls.
The Burgess Group credited
“We designed and built a showroom in Felixstowe to begin with. After a few years of trading we fortunately found ourselves (I refer to ‘we’ as I consider everyone in the team relevant in the business) outgrew our premises and opened a much larger show site within Notcutts Garden Centre in Woodbridge. Despite some challenging years, we continued to grow and opened further showrooms in Bury St Edmunds and Ingatestone in Essex. We plan to expand to Cambridge and Norwich over the course of the next few years.
“Our trading name to begin with was Countryside Home Improvements. A few years ago and inline with the complete rebuild and redesign of our Woodbridge showroom, we felt we needed to rebrand with a name to better reflect the business – hence The Burgess Group evolved.”
What’s in your bag…?
“This is my trusty old satchel – customised by Olive (the bag has a well chewed buckle). The satchel was a special birthday gift from my wife Clare; I think Clare felt I looked more like a tax inspector than the owner of a timber window business with my old briefcase!”
“This is my Leatherman which was given to me by my mother whom works part-time in our Woodbridge showroom. It is a really handy gadget to have to hand, and although I am highly impractical it does get used from time to time. We employ experienced craftsmen to install our windows and doors so no fear I would be grabbing this tool to carry out a customer project.”
“These Rayban sunglasses have been dropped, sat on, left on trains, buses and in taxis, but somehow have always managed to be returned to me and are still in one piece. The scratches give them a certain personality!”
“We often enjoy a decent coffee with our customers when they pop in to one of our showrooms. The coffee pods are lovingly produced by an enterprising company based in London; like us they are a small independent business, which is why I like to support them. This is my reserve stock in case we are running short in any of our showrooms. We all need a tasty cappuccino to kick-start the day.”
“I keep my drawing pad with me at all times, often sketching down ideas. I also like to do drawings for customers to show how their new windows and doors may look in their homes. Professional CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawings are created at order stage.”
“Colour swatches are a great way for customers to see the potential finish of their new windows or doors against their properties. At the moment, greys and pastel shades of green and blue are really popular choices so I always keep these swatches in my bag.”
“We offer customers a wide range of windows and doors, mainly manufactured in timber but we also offer tasteful PVCU (Polyvinyl Chloride Un-plasticised) and aluminium options. I keep a stock of brochures and photograph albums showing previous installations to offer customers inspiration – this does mean that lifting my bag on and off my shoulder feels like a work out.”
“I keep a keyboard with me to connect to my iPad. Our design and pricing system is online meaning I can provide customers with detailed information during site meetings.”
“Often when I am working from one of our showroom I am accompanied by Olive, a cheeky little Cockapoo. I give her tasty cheese treats to reward her with when she greets a visit with a friendly lick and not a bark. Always best to give a good first impression.”
Olive’s tasty treats
“I have been lucky enough to purchase tickets for Ipswich Town’s second leg of the play offs against Norwich. These tickets are safely kept in my secure zip pocket, away from any naughty dog to chew.”
Thank you Edward! It was a pleasure meeting you and your lovely dog!