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GRS - the early years
From humble beginnings half a century ago, GRS – originally 'Galliford Road Stone' – has grown to become the country’s largest nationwide trader, transporter and handler of construction aggregates and waste materials.
The company gained its independence after a management buy-out from contractor Galliford in 1997. That was also the year that an aspiring salesman Jon Fisher – now GRS chief executive – joined a new team with a can-do attitude and bags of ambition.
That spirit – still part of the GRS core values today – helped the young firm to achieve rapid success trading aggregates in the Midlands and South East building relationships that led to involvement is some large construction schemes. In turn, that success led to the formation of a sister company for bagged aggregates, GRS Bagging, just three years later.
Realising a vision for growth
Both GRS divisions - Trading and Bagging (nor Building Products) - continued to grow, adding to their portfolio in the mid-2000s with complementary joint ventures in inert waste and rail freight in key locations. GRS became involved in many of the major infrastructure projects of the era – including the likes of Heathrow Terminal 5, Wembley Stadium and the M6 Toll – allowing the business to expand as it picked up work with Tier 1 clients. Demonstrating remarkable resilience during the economic downturn, GRS continued to perform well, growing into new markets and adding to its network of bagging plants.
In 2012, a second management buy-out, led by Jon Fisher, allowed further expansion and a new focus on people development. Jon then set about delivering his own vision for GRS, to create the only nationwide business of its kind, serving British construction with materials solutions, waste services and end-to-end logistics.
That vision then led to further strategic acquisitions, joint ventures and commercial partnerships that have become a hallmark of the GRS business model. It's one of the reasons why GRS was named among the highest climbers the Sunday Times top track 250 growth companies for four years running.
Becoming a nationwide player
After expanding northwards, and across the east and south west of England in 2015 and 2016, 2017 was a seminal year for GRS. Firstly the company acquired West Country building materials firm Maen Karne in January, followed by two further bagging plants in the north. Then at the end of the year came the acquisition of London infrastructure services and marine freight business S Walsh & Sons. As if that wasn’t enough GRS also began 2018 with the launch of Earth Solutions, a nationwide waste and recycling partnership with UK’s leading building materials and construction solutions provider Tarmac.
As a result, today GRS occupies an almost unique position, employing around 800 people at 50 locations nationwide, from trading offices and bagging plants to rail depots and recycling facilities. Between them they handle almost 20 million tonnes of materials each year. Seeing the opportunity to bring more sustainable sources of material into London, via marine and rail freight, GRS has also tied up exclusive deals to market by-products from the china clay and tungsten mining industry as high-quality secondary aggregates.