Celebrating 20 years of ARV Solutions

Celebrating 20 years of ARV Solutions

Recently, we celebrated 20 years since Jim took the leap and set up ARV Solutions in his spare room. To celebrate, we held an event on the Matthew of Bristol – the historic replica of the ship to sail across the Atlantic.

It was great to reflect on the 20-year journey ARV Solutions has been on, our continuous improvements and the challenges along the way which have made us stronger. Here is the speech I gave at the event, give it a read, I hope it gives you a laugh!

“Welcome to our guests, staff and all the partners here today. Thank you for joining us.

We are here to celebrate the first 20 years of the voyages of ARV Solutions and her crew.

The guest list was clearly chosen for your potential in ship building. You collectively cover supply, design, manufacturing, and construction in both timber and in sail amongst many other skills.

Congratulations to all the ARV Solutions crew who have made it this far. Thank you all for your hard work, loyalty, and successes over the years. Also, a thank you to our business advisor Paul Jacobs for his expert guidance on steering and iceberg avoidance.

ARV Solutions recruitment


I can talk about our business and our people for many hours but will try and condense a few tales into less than 10 minutes. Please indulge me…

The ARV story includes many a tale of travels far and wide (often on TEAMS these days), of pioneering people, and the development of cultures and collaboration. It takes us across the length and breadth of this land, and across seas and oceans. To Europe, to the middle and far east, and to what were the colonies.

I will tell you of gathering people from across the globe and selling them to the highest bidder. That said, I would mind you to understand that we are neither old nor modern slavers!

ARV solutions team


I first set out without a crew and set sail from my spare room.

I gathered like-minded adventurers along the way, seeking out our own path, rather than following in the wakes of others. Along the way some took different paths, some abandoned ship, and just a few were cast adrift.

We have not always had fair winds, and have endured the odd storm and misadventure along the way. We have been blown off course by war, global pandemic, worldwide trading collapse, and broken treaties across our own continent. But we have always won through, and found fairer winds.

Among our crew here today we find some of the most loyal, skilled, talented and resilient people. We drive for success above money – though those paths travel in similar directions, they should not be confused.

We are collaborators not competitors and we share in the spoils.

Through this, our people are ever increasingly respected and sought out far and wide, by trading companies needing to find crew for their own adventures.

This was all recently affirmed by Investors in People accrediting us up from Gold to Platinum. Speaks for itself.

I am proud to have you all with us on the ship whether your journey so far has been long, very long, or short – every member of the crew has a part to play.

We celebrate our journey and the part we have played in so many more.

We engage with people.

The people we engage with turn base materials such as timber and steel into advanced manufactured efficient buildings of the future – which we call homes, offices, schools, hospitals and portable relocatable welfare facilities (a big welcome to Mark and Gemma from Portable Space).

ARV solutions celebration


I will regail you of just a few of our adventures!

Back in 2004, I sent emissaries to the Qatari desert entreated by a gentleman from India working with the Sheiks – I was tasked to send Supervisors for cryogenic insulation installation on Liquid natural gas plants – we sent 7 in the end.

Also in 2004, we were engaged by expert sail makers (tensile fabric structures) across the waters of the Severn – where we have worked with both father and now son, demonstrating the longevity of the relationship, welcome to Christopher and Kate from Architen Landrell.

One of my favourite tales is of seeking out a suitable dignitary to satisfy the demands of the UK Timber Frame Association – now the STA – when they sought a new Chief Executive back in 2010– but I’ll let him tell that one should he choose to – as he is aboard! Welcome Andrew Carpenter and Liz.

We have engaged with Vikings! Engcon and their tilt rotator excavator heads, (we almost had a battle when we provided a cold lunch – but made up for it next day with a traditional British curry) and Stora Enso, the huge forestry product suppliers to name but two. They may well supply to some of our guests in the timber frame, timber engineering and supply areas?

Welcome Richard and Julie from Falcon Panel Products,

Simon and Kaye from Donaldson Timber Systems

Julian and Lindsey from National Timber Group – Julian, sorry you are missing Bears V Chiefs rugby match today, or are you running across later? Kick off  7:30.

When on a family adventure in 2013  to the old penal colonies, now Australia, I was emboldened by a wise man to seek out an Englishman and entertain him to coffee, while he entertained me to his containerised kitchen and bathroom pods. The Englishman later commissioned us to gather the finest talent to bring innovative manufactured modular buildings to Australia from China.

Folk travelled the globe for an audience in London Town. The challenge was finally ascribed to a Dane (another viking!) living down the road in China. Thus the Ming, Sing, Tang, Zhou, Jin and other ancient dynasties of China, are replaced with the dynasty of MMC. Also the biggest fee I personally ever made which paid for the trip!

There is another here, who has worked on some famous flagships now lost to the deep, and also worked with Vikings (ok – he worked with Ikea). He had the good fortune or foresight to jump ship avoiding disasters, and the good judgement to seek out his latest crew with my crew’s assistance. We have taken the best of the survivors and pressed them into his service. Welcome Rick Butters

I should mention the Americas – I believe this amazing vessel played some part in their discovery?  Actually the Americans travelled to us, here in Bristol! Years ago, the Modular Building Institute came over on a seminar trip, and I was asked to be their guide through the murky night life of Bristol’s harbourside – ending up at the Apple Barge to take in the delights of west country ciders. Their primary interest was not the great history of the port, or Brunel’s engineering feats, – but the 13-storey free standing, cantilevered volumetric modular build student accommodation. (Phoenix Court by Unite Modular – Rick?)

Top that? We have even helped people into space – genuinely. I was engaged to train the Virgin Galactic team on how to use their Database System – in half-moon street opposite the Ritz.

Culture was at the heart of plotting our course from the outset. I set out with an idealistic view to create a market leading business, based on quality, and adding real value, ARV that was collaborative and welcoming – in contrast to the recruitment businesses I had worked in before.

I must acknowledge that our cultural ideals have been upheld and shaped by our people. Culture doesn’t work as a directive. The culture has been trimmed and adjusted like a sail to get the best for everyone, and tactically we have had to tack and gybe a few times, but never been deterred from our ideals.

Thank you to Graham and Sue, legends of the high seas.

To Craig and Rob who steer our ship.

To the Callums – valued lieutenants,

To Paul, Jody and Ciara – the press-gang squad seeking out new sailors

To Lucy who manages our trading post

And also to midshipmen – midship people? Will, Tommy and Annie

A last thank you to Deb, my fabulous wife who has been my invaluable support all the way, and also Operations Director helping take the business forward better than ever. Thank you.


Two toasts

We shouldn’t forget those close to us we have lost along the way – so please toast to Absent friends

And to ARV Solutions

Hip hip etc

celebrating ARV Solutions

After our celebrations ended, we had some leftover bar tab which we donated to The Matthew’s Charity. Thank you for hosting us!


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