As the business has grown so have his premises, and the company is now situated on a two acre site near Lakeside in Thurrock, housing around 4 million bricks. Having such a large site means that he is able to offer a wide range of bricks, and because the company is not aligned to one particular supplier or manufacturer they are able to offer independent and unbiased advice. As well as using UK bricks he also imports from Europe and is able to obtain much more unusual or rare bricks not readily available in this country. Eddie is also is able to supply his own range of signature bricks which come in a range of colours and styles. As well as their base in Essex, they also have a large depot in the Midlands meaning that they are able to easily service all areas of the country.
For Eddie, ET Clay Products is very much a family run business, with his sister, brother-in-law, wife, daughter and son-in-law, as well as nieces and nephews, all involved. He believes that this gives the company a different perspective, and that even though they are now a large company in terms of range, they are still small enough to truly care about their customers, and offer the best service possible.
The company works closely with customers from several sectors of the market including architects, developers, contractors, self-builders and even housing associations. Eddie believes that ET Clay Products are able to find the right product to meet all their customers’ needs. “Whether they need a specific colour, size, durability or if they just have a set budget, we can help them find the best quality product for their project.” Although many may think a brick merchant might only supply for major building projects, Eddie is happy to help with orders of any size. “For us, no quantity is too small, and we are always here to help with domestic projects, such as extensions and garden walls, as well as all the way up to larger developments.”
Some of the larger developments he has been involved with have directly benefited the Jewish community, such as Phase 1 of King Solomon School in Barkingside, Essex, and supplying materials for a new Jewish care home in Hendon, which is currently under construction. Eddie and his team have also worked with many of the synagogues within the community helping with extensions and other building work.
Often when it comes to older houses, it can be more difficult to find authentic bricks that fit with the aesthetic of the house, but Eddie and his team offer a brick matching service, so that any new bricks fit seamlessly with the original brickwork. In some areas, only specific colours or styles of bricks are allowed, such as Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust who are responsible for houses in that area. ET Clay have worked closely with them, and are approved and recognised by this Trust, making them a main supplier of the correct bricks for houses in this area, as well as handmade tiles from another strand of his company, Heritage Clay Tiles.
Heritage Clay Tiles offers hand-made and handcrafted roof tiles for the top end of the market. By running these two companies, Eddie is able to offer what he calls ‘a complete external envelope’ for any building project which also includes lintels and reconstituted stone. For the customer, this joined up approach saves not only time, but money. Eddie explains, “We are able to work across the project which means that the customer does not have to deal with two suppliers and we can easily co-ordinate delivery to fit around each element.”
Having worked in the trade for over 30 years, Eddie would be the first to admit that he has been fascinated by bricks for a long time. He first realised his obsession when he was out with his wife, and children. He explains, “The children started pointing to buildings and asking me about the names and types of bricks. When my wife asked if I had seen a particular person walking along the street, I realised that I had been too busy looking at the arches and details, and talking to my children about bricks, that I had not even noticed. That’s when I knew that I was hooked, and I have been ever since!”
In the time that he has worked within the industry, he has noticed a major change in pace when it comes to business, and many customers demand fast responses. “When I started, we didn’t have mobile phones or even faxes, so any quotes had to be written out and posted out, and then the customer would then get in touch. Now we can send out a quote, get a response, and complete the deal in a matter of hours. It makes it a much more exciting industry to work in.
Due to the rise in housing demand, there is again beginning to be a significant shortage of bricks with many UK suppliers struggling to get products to customers in good time. “Currently a lot of suppliers are taking 10 – 15 weeks to get orders out to their customers, but because we hold such a wide range often from Europe, all of which meet UK specifications, we are able to meet demands, and deliver bricks to customers in around 3 – 4 days.”
When it comes to building projects, Eddie’s tip would be to make sure that you don’t cut corners when it comes to bricks. “Within a whole project, the bricks are only about 2% of the actual budget costs, so trying to save money on bricks is only a small part of the expenses involved.”
In his role as Chairman, he is responsible for overseeing the business, but still works closely on a
day-to-day basis with his staff. He is always happy to use his many years of sales expertise to help and give advice to his team of sales co-ordinators, or other members of staff. For Eddie, the best part of his job is being able to help the customer and give them what they want. “Finding the right product for the right person is what gives me the most satisfaction, and when people are happy with our products, that makes it all worthwhile.”
If you are planning a building project and would like to speak to ET Clay Products about this – please contact them on 01708 200 304 or check out their website – www.etbricks.co.uk. Please also check out the Heritage Clay Tiles website – www.heritagetiles.co.uk or get in touch on 01708 853 953
Do you know anyone who would like to be featured on this page? Let us know by emailing