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26th July 2018 / posted by Alice Devereux

From Paperboy to Frame Designer

Alex's Oakwrights Story

I started my working life during my secondary school years as a paperboy, without a single inkling that I might soon take an interest in construction. During my school years it was quite clear I wasn’t going to take the route most of my classmates would take. I struggled in tests and sitting around listening to the teachers and I was always a lot more practical and hands on. My first clue as to a career path I might enjoy came from an oak coffee table I made in design and technology and put more effort into than any classroom based work. I had also spent a few weeks on a building site with my uncle being a labourer for him, and during my last year at school I decided I wanted to join my uncle in the bricklaying world, and so applied to join what at the time was “The Hereford College of Technology”, now known as “Herefordshire & Ludlow College.” I wanted to do the bricklaying course, which would then lead onto an apprenticeship. However, a change in heart lead me to embark upon the Joiner & Carpentry course instead. I started the course and within 2 weeks had found myself a locally based company that would take me on as an apprentice, and I served out my 3 year apprenticeship there as a bench joiner. After I had finished my course, achieving a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Wood Occupations, the company decided to keep me on as a fulltime employee. I stayed there for 2 more years, not only working on the bench but operating the CNC.

After 5 years in the joinery and furniture industry, I decided that I now wanted to work on projects on a bigger scale. When one of my current employees mentioned they were soon to be advertising for new trainees at Oakwrights, who I had always heard about but never thought of as a possible employer, I did my research into the company (watching almost every YouTube video they had put up) and sent in my CV. Little did I know that by January of the next year I would be starting work in the oak workshop.


Oakwrights Frame Designer Alex Knowles

Alex, our frame and encapsulation designer, has been with us at Oakwrights since January last year. After working six months in the workshop, he has been in design for the past year.

To become an Oakwrights designer there is a great sense of initiation, in that you must complete between 6-12 months working practically in the workshops and out on site in order to begin to design. At the start I wasn’t too much looking forward to this, but I began to truly love every bit of the workshop and site- and not only was I enjoying it, I was learning everything I was required to know in order to design an oak framed house. Since then, I have had 2 full builds erected on site and I could not be happier. Seeing the smile on the clients’ face when the building is going up is more than enough to keep me happy. I have also been lucky enough to be involved in a few open days and worked on the stands at the building shows, which is a great opportunity to express my passion for the company to prospective clients.

What makes an Oakwrights build so impressive for me is the feeling you get inside the structure; the open plan and the vaulted ceilings are truly something to be proud of, and you can see the massive effect they have on a lot of people. At the open days, you will greet already impressed clients from the outside, but as soon as they step in their faces just change entirely, and this is why I love working for Oakwrights.


Oakwrights Frame Designer Alex at HB&R NEC

Alex on hand at the National HB&R Show

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