After a successful 33 years at the helm of the country’s leading luxury park home and lodge manufacturer, our managing director Mike Wills and fellow company director Martin Hember have announced plans to hang up their crowns and take a step back, making way for successor’s Bruce Macdonald & John Hoyle. Mike and director Martin have decided to break into retirement slowly and whilst still assist the new heads, enjoy a well-deserved break.
Mike stated “I am proud of Pathfinder Homes, as a manufacturer, as a business and as a community. From humble beginnings as a business we have innovated and grown from strength to strength. I am confident we have found perfect investors in Bruce and John and that they will continue to build upon the solid foundation of Pathfinder Homes and continue to experience tremendous growth.”
Our history enriches a strong and fascinating 58 year heritage. Mike originally invested in what was then known simply as ‘Pathfinder’s’ and worked closely with the company founders Tony & Gerry Horton. Quickly learning a whole number of trades Mike completely took over the business in 1983 following the Horton Brothers retirement. Under Mike’s reign Pathfinder Homes grew from strength to strength; at the time, nobody could have predicted the success we were harbouring.
During the 90s, Mike employed a modest yet strong workforce of 8 team members, 1 computer (exclusively for accounts) and built one home to their high standard, every four weeks. Compare this now with their current statistics of 160 team members, delivering 24 homes a month, the success and growth Mike and Martin have achieved. With limited work space, restricted facilities and hand drawn plans Mike grafted long and hard alongside his team and the Pathfinder Homes butterfly left the cocoon!
In 1997 Martin Hember joined Mike as a fellow director and a beautiful partnership was formed between the two, both operational members of the team contributing through building walls all the way down to pencilled plans. This era represented perhaps the biggest landmark for us as a business, demand grew beyond any prediction and developments were introduced including computerised modelling of designs, new building standards and fresh standard models and of course, increased competition. As the world moved into a brand new century, the market shifted and the industry experienced a culture change. The general public began to purchase Pathfinder Homes as second homes to be used as a base for vacations in their most idealistic locations. As this trend became more popular Pathfinder Homes reacted with yet another industry first introducing the initial concept of a purpose built holiday lodge.
Hand in hand with demand, production began to increase and in 2004 Pathfinder Homes had reached maximum potential at their modest base and moved headquarters from Pathfinder Village to Heathfield Industrial Estate, Newton Abbot. This dramatic yet necessary relocation provided the business with quite literally, a concrete base to work from, an opportunity to provide office space for back house team, more storage facilities and vitally more ground to build the highly demanded homes.
Expectations from the market were at an all-time high and in Pathfinder Homes’ continued commitment to innovate, question standards and push the boundaries of design; their models began to truly create categories of their own. Homes such as the The DreamCatcher and The Beachcomber were introduced creating revelations in holiday home living. Such models featured Whirlpool Jacuzzis, flat screen TVs and walk in wardrobes leading the way in design, quality and innovation.
In 2008 the world experienced one of the worst economic downturns in history. Banks refused to lend money, housing prices slumped and home owners struggled to pay existing mortgages in turn, this affected the supply and demand of the luxurious homes being built at Heathfield Estate. Although, business was tough within the residential market the sales of Holiday Lodges steadily continued. In 2010 an opportunity arose to expand to the adjacent factory and despite the odds and expectations Pathfinder Homes extended work space and work force creating a factory of almost 45,000sqft. This increased potential production to 12 homes a month and with economic recovery on the horizon Pathfinder Homes emerged from the recession in a state stronger than any historic year.
Bruce has been close friends with Mike for almost 20 years and joined the team in 2013, originally on a 3 month contract. His vast experience and varied skill set within the construction and development industry offered transferable skills and Bruce immediately found his way around the production line. He went on to play a vital role in implementing dynamic processes and supporting the production team during an intense period of large orders and needless to say Bruce continued to turn into Pathfinder Homes long after his 3 month contract.
Now Managing Director, Bruce commented “When Mike & Martin started talking about their retirements I saw an opportunity; it makes perfect sense. Pathfinder Homes is a successful business in a thriving industry, with a clear vision and a strategy to get there. Mine and Johns experience in construction
Throughout our rich heritage we have always continued to create awe-inspiring designs and have won numerous awards for our innovation, quality and architectural brilliance. There seems to be no question that Bruce and John are excited and passionate about their new business venture. John stated “Bruce and I are proud to become a part of this successful business and will only continue to uphold its core values. We will always employ the finest standards of craftsmanship and utilise a variety of premium, exceptionally high-quality materials and make sure owning a Pathfinder Home still offers the highest standard, handcrafted, truly unparalleled experience people have come to expect.” and development are of course an advantage but all we aim to do is continue to uphold and even work to improve the quality of our homes, the process of production and ultimately the future of the business.”
Pathfinder Homes as a team, with Bruce and John at the forefront and Mike and Martin remaining to share their experience and expertise, will continue to bring the UK a unique and accelerative way of thinking about the Park Home and Lodge industry. From the inception of trade till today and even as a long term vision they will continue to assist their clients to fulfil their home building and park development dreams through a complete and comprehensive understanding of their values, lifestyles and wishes.