It happens once every two years, and this year was my first visit. No i’m not talking about Christmas at the in-law’s, this was the Strata Homes Business update.
For those that aren’t aware of Strata, they are a Yorkshire-based family-run residential developer and are by far one of the most progressive housebuilders I have come across. What does that mean though? What is a progressive housebuilder?
To be honest, it doesn’t take much to be progressive in housebuilding, it is an antiquated industry in dire need of updating. It’s very much a “well we’ve done it this way before, so we’re going to carry on doing it that way” sector – that’s all going to change though, according to Strata.
I made my way across the Pennines to the Magna Science Adventure Centre, a striking and impressive building in the heart of Rotherham. Apparently, it was an old steelworks, and that became apparent when entering – hooks the size of double-decker buses adorn the ceiling 80ft above you, and you’re hoping they stay there.
Not what I expected. I’ve been to a few of these type-affairs and they’re usually in the basement of a city-centre hotel with the same yawn-inducing décor and lack of natural light. This was quite the opposite.
A really impressive space with several large screens supplying several well edited videos on the company’s profile and the (endless) charity events they engage in. On arrival there was the standard-issue coffee we all expected, and… a table dedicated to cookies – nice touch, Strata. After pouring coffee down my shirt while trying to take a picture (smooth), we were invited to take our seats in the impressively light-walled conference room.
Business update time. Andrew Weaver, CEO of Strata Homes took us through a journey of the company over the last two years and interestingly there were no figures on any of the slides. Not one. Andrew explained that this was a sentiment update, and he stuck to his guns and discussed things as far afield as Greta Thunburg’s Time Person of the Year win as ultimately having an effect on the future of Strata’s customers. It had merit.
It’s clear though, that they believe to resonate with their target demographic they have to adapt, to understand that the customers of tomorrow aren’t interested in the business side, they’re interested in the brand and sentiment.
Not having a single figure may have been overkill, but they wanted to make a statement and it’s rare to see a housebuilder buck the corporate trend like that. Very refreshing. Andrew was engaging through his monologue, and was adamant the demographic of FTB’s in 10 years’ time is going to be very different, and you need to appeal to them now.
There was even reference to a Giff Gaff advert from 2018 “Small vs Big” – a well-written poem delivered by a teenage girl called Molly. An anti-establishment lyric that eschews “big business” and “faceless corporates” for favour of the smaller and more agile entity – Molly was a future Strata customer, according to Andrew.
The second part of the update was focused on their charitable events and escapades, and it’s clear how important charity is for the business – there are numerous events, and you’re encouraged to get involved in as many as possible (we are suppliers, after all).
Charity of the year was B:Friend, a passionate organisation that focuses on social isolation for older people. They pair up volunteer’s and elderly neighbours who suffer from loneliness (there are more out there than you would realise) across South Yorkshire for all sorts, and it Funnily enough it turned out two of Strata’s staff were already part of the program.
Strata have done a lot of work to promote a positive working environment and positive sentiment behind their well-crafted branding, and it is leaving traditional house builders behind successfully. It would be nice to see more housebuilders go in this direction and give the customer the respect it’s due by changing to fit their needs, not the other way round.
It probably sounds like a fluff piece, but it’s not really. Strata have made positive changes that will benefit the industry and it feels pretty authentic. I stayed for a beer and catch-up afterwards, because that’s what you do at these things, then headed home to an agitated 4-month old. Lovely.