Clare Hollister from PJP visited AJB Group Ltd in Corby recently for a fascinating chat with its CEO, Amarjit Binji.
AJB Group Ltd is situated on an unremarkable industrial estate in Corby but once inside it is anything but unremarkable. The reception is an interior design dream and feels more like the reception of a specialist high end car outfit than a woodworking machinery company. This is exactly the image which CEO, Amarjit Binji, wants to project and he has achieved the same clean, slick, process driven feel throughout the business from his board room to the business end of the factory.
Amarjit makes no excuse for having the ambition to be the ‘most famous face in woodworking’ (his words not ours) he wants to prove that the industry can be clean, bright, uncluttered and process driven, more in keeping with other industries.
As a 13 year old who had little interest in schooling apart from woodworking and sports, Amarjit got a weekend job with a local builder, Henry, who instilled in him a strong work ethic and passion for all things wood. He secured himself an apprenticeship with a woodworking company and whilst he loved what he was doing he was frustrated by what he perceived as the chaos and untidy work place where your tea and sandwiches tasted of sawdust. He believed that every woodworking factory could be as clean and slick as a Mercedes Benz showroom; so with a loan from his father in 1999 he formed AJB Woodworking Ltd and moved into a rundown workshop in Leicester with the aim to have style, order, process and cleanliness at the heart of the business, somewhere that people wanted to work and that would attract young people into the trade and to provide a legacy for the future of the business and the area. The company specialises in the design and manufacture of high quality Internal Joinery, External Doorsets, Windows, Composite Doors and Mouldings for residential, commercial renovations and new-build developments of all sizes.
Having a hands on approach to the business worked for the first 24 years. Working with members of his family and close friends the business has gone from strength to strength and Amarjit moved the company to Corby and currently employs 40 staff. However, last year he realised that his talents were no longer best served on the shop floor. He has people in place who can do that and do it very well with the processes and design well established and ‘Gloria’ (so named by Amarjit’s children) their super-efficient dust extraction and wood waste heating system fully functional. So, with some trepidation Amarjit Binji took on the role of CEO of the AJB Group Ltd and set about promoting AJB in order to improve the sales and marketing side of the business.
AJB works for many larger companies meaning the AJB brand is often not associated with the work produced so Amarjit decided to put his head above the parapet and introduce himself to the world of woodworking using PR and marketing and applying for various awards – they won 4 out of 5 that he applied for Entrepreneur of the Year – Midlands Business Awards 2022 / Entrepreneur of the Year – The Nachural Entrepreneurship Awards 2022 / Business Person of the Year – Signature Awards (London) 2022 / Joinery Manufacturer of the Year – Furniture & Joinery Conference Awards 2022.
This has resulted in increased sales and a higher profile within the business.
His work ethic and desire to engage with his community comes from his strong Sikh faith – something that is subtly evident through the workplace – and is a reminder of his Grandmother who brough him up and instilled in him the responsibility of each individual to do the best they can for themselves but also for others. There are quotes and thoughts on display throughout the offices and factory which serve to inspire and remind everyone who works at AJB that Amarjit’s door is always open and that the company supports its staff at every level.
By raising the profile of the company Amarjit wants not just to attract customers but also young people into the business. Growing a business is always about sales but also about legacy
“We want young people to understand that they are part of a growing, thriving business. We understand that they may want to spread their wings and look further afield but in truth we want them to stay with us progressing within AJB and building a strong inhouse trained workforce who understand the AJB Group culture and continue to build the legacy of the company.”
PJP looks forward to keeping readers up to date with the AJB journey.