Brendan Kerr, chief executive, Keltbray
Since joining Keltbray in 1989 and working his way up to becoming owner and chief executive in 2003, Brendan Kerr has grown what was a small specialist contractor into one of the world’s largest demolition firms.
As it has grown from being a £22m-revenue specialist to having a turnover of almost £300m, Keltbray’s name has become synonymous with the UK’s biggest jobs.
Having worked on iconic projects such as the Shard, Crossrail, Battersea Power Station and the Olympic Stadium, the company has continued to soar, leaping 34 places in the CN100 table of top contractors in 2015.
Despite the difficult market, Keltbray grew pre-tax profit last year and increased turnover by 25 per cent.
Under Mr Kerr’s direction, Keltbray has diversified from being solely a demolition contractor to providing services from engineering design and decommissioning through to piling, remediation, rail electrification and environmental services.
Born in Belfast, Mr Kerr left school as a 15-year-old without any O-levels to train as a carpenter, receiving an Advanced City & Guilds Diploma in Carpentry. Today, he directly employs more than 1,000 staff through Keltbray, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.
His aim for Keltbray is to employ one apprentice or intern to every 17 employees and the company invests £1m in training annually.
Last year, Keltbray also provided training and work opportunities for more than 350 long-term unemployed and former offenders.
Mr Kerr says: “Our people are key to our success, and just like my life was changed, I believe other peoples’ lives can be transformed by being given opportunities through practical training and work.”
The company’s growth has been built on its owner’s commitment to innovation, technical leadership and health and safety. The focus on customer service has meant Keltbray enjoys long-term relationships with major clients including Land Securities, the Crown Estate, Mace, Network Rail, Skanska and Magnox.
At the CN Specialists Awards earlier this year, Keltbray was recognised as the Specialist Contractor of the Year (turnover over £25m). Under Mr Kerr’s guidance, it continues to go from strength to strength.