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TGtS Meets...Harvey Fremlin

NSBRC's General Manager, Harvey Fremlin opens up about his former life as an actor, his family and why more people should start home renovation projects.

Tell us a little bit more about your role at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre?

The NSBRC is a permanent visitor centre for people who are building or improving their homes. The role of General Manager is a varied and exciting one, as I deal with a wide range of business functions, from the day to day operation, sales and marketing and staffing to name a few. We host a number of large scale shows and events which are great fun to organise but hugely demanding. 

How did you first get involved in this industry?

Like most people, I wasn’t at school thinking ‘one day I’d like to run a visitor centre for people who build their own homes!’ I spent two years in my twenties living in London training to be an actor, and after a period playing a variety of strange roles up and down the country I spent 6 months working as a labourer for my Uncle's building company. After I joined the NSBRC as an Account Manager and it all seemed to fall into place, I’ve now been here seven years and love it.

What advice would you give someone going into a leadership position for the first time?

Have faith in your skills and judgment, and don’t be afraid to listen to your own gut-instinct - its probably right.

How has the industry changed since you first started out?

The biggest change has been the affects of the credit crunch in 2008, and resultant recession, which reduced the availability of finance for individuals wanting to build their own home.  This led to a general trend of people improving their own homes – which in turn meant we adapted our offering, although now the economy is recovering the numbers of people building new, bespoke homes is on the rise again.

What are the biggest challenges affecting your industry today?

The availability of land has always been a challenge for an individual because the market tends to be skewed in favour of developers.  However, the Government is really behind the concept of self build (and groups of self builders known as ‘custom build’) as a way of tackling our national housing crisis and they have introduced various legislation to make land more available (from Local Authorities), abolish taxes and make planning less restrictive. 

Do you have a motto or favourite motivational quote?

Above my desk it says: ‘The harder I work, the luckier I get’ and I truly believe that.  I have sacrificed an awful lot of weekends and evenings to study Business with the Open University over the last few years, but my career has developed on the back of those efforts and the knowledge I gained.

What’s been your greatest achievement to date?

That's easy - marrying the most fantastic girl ever (from Swindon!) and producing our beautiful son. 

What’s your favourite thing about working at the National Self Build and Renovation Centre?

Without hesitation the people I work with. We're a small but committed team who work extremely hard, but have an awful lot of fun whilst we do it and, without exception, all love what we do. We are an employee owned business (similar to the John Lewis model) so each member of the team has a genuine sense of ownership for the business and a stake in its success.

Do you have any top tips for self build/renovation that you’d like to share?

Don’t be afraid! Although the concept of designing and building your own home can seem daunting - you’ll be joining over 13,000 people who build their own unique homes each year. It gives you so much choice; from how the house is constructed, how energy efficient it is, to the level of finish you will enjoy once moved in - which buying a house ‘off the shelf’ simply can’t do. 

When you’re not busy working, how do you like to spend your down time?

I really enjoy running and think the Parkrun (5k run in Lydiard Park every Saturday at 9am) which is run by volunteers is just brilliant. I used to have a season ticket at Swindon Town, but can’t get there as much as I’d like due to work and my young family, but I’m so pleased that they are flying high this season whilst playing attractive, passing football.

For any further information on the National Self Build & Renovation Centre please call 0845 223 4455.

National Self Build & Renovation Centre

National Self Build & Renovation Centre

Lydiard Fields, Great Western Way, Swindon , Wiltshire, SN5 8UB

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