Founded in 1919 by Alfred John Philpott, A.J. Philpott & Sons have been supplying everything from timber, tools and building equipment for over 100 years.
Over the years, it has gone from selling sticks and slabs to making fireplaces and selling gas masks and ammunition boxes during the Second World War.
Today the business – which is still very much in the hands of the Philpott family – is known as a timber and general merchant, which supplies everything from timber, tools and building equipment.
It is now based across the road from its original Fountain Street site and is run by Alfred’s grandchildren, brothers Peter and Paul Philpott and their cousins Sarah Turner and Jane Procter, who are sisters. The foursome took over the business from their fathers – Alfred’s sons, Stan and Jack.
And in the last 20 years, Alfred’s four great-grandchildren have also joined the company – taking the A.J Philpott team to 17.
Over the years the business has changed a lot, but the most challenging thing for us has been trying to compete with the DIY market and the likes of B&Q. We always say that we can’t compete on price but we can compete on customer service. We have customers who have been with us for about 50 years; once we get a customer we tend to keep them. We have built up a good reputation over the years.
When we first moved to our current site it was very small, but we have expanded about three times and now we are probably 10 times bigger than we were back then. Having more space means we have been able to adapt and expand our services.
Over the next five years, Peter hopes the next generation of Philpotts will step into managerial roles as the four current directors look towards retirement. Peter added:
The directors will probably step down in the next five to 10 years and we hope that the next generation will step up and continue to run the business and look after it for grandad as we have done all these years.
Some of the big businesses in Fenton have shut down over the years, so I’m really proud to say that we are still here. There aren’t many family-run businesses like ours who can say they are celebrating 100 years in business.