In 1934 Samuel (Sam) Wernick, having made poultry crates, sheds and houses for his poultry business, places a sign outside his family home declaring ‘Sheds For Sale – Enquire Within’. The business is born.
1940 – 1949
Despite a difficult start, Sam is pleased with the progress of the business and optimistic about its future, making it a Limited Company in the autumn of 1946.
Samuel’s sons Solomon (Solly), Nathan (Nat) and Joe as well as his son in law Max, who had all taken shares in the business, are appointed as Sam’s fellow Directors though Joe is still in the army. The first meeting of S. Wernick and Sons Ltd. is held on the 17th September 1946 at Princess Square, Wolverhampton in the offices of the Company’s solicitors.
The first annual general meeting is held at 127 Waterloo Road, the family home, in the summer of 1947. Sam assigns responsibilities to the board, with Max helping him with the production of trailers, Solly in charge of making portable buildings, and Joe, who would return later in the year, is put in charge of sales. Nat is given responsibility over the Company’s products in London while he seeks other employment as the business is not yet large enough to support them all.
1950 – 1959
Nat re-joins the Company in 1952 and is tasked with finding a site for another factory to relieve the pressure of the Wolverhampton factory and is better placed to serve the South. The Company buys a large tract of land in Billericay, Essex and in August 1952 begins production.
Nat is joined by his younger brother Lionel in September 1953, who becomes a Director a month later.
In 1956 another new factory is opened at Brownhills, ten miles east of Wolverhampton.
The Company’s product range is constantly growing, with the 1958 catalogue listing amongst other things sheds, workshops, garages, chalets conservatories as well as poultry houses and pigeon lofts.
Samuel steps down as Chairman in 1957 and is succeeded by Solly Wernick.
1960 – 1969
In 1967 Solly sells his shares to his brothers and Nat takes over as Chairman.
In 1968 production stops at the cramped Waterloo Road site, with all staff moving to Brownhills.
In the late 1960’s Lionel’s eleven year old son David is employed by the Company sorting bolts during his school holidays.
1970 – 1979
In 1971 the board accepts Nat’s proposal that Chairmanship should rotate amongst the brothers. Joe Wernick is appointed Managing Director for the Midlands and Lionel Wernick is appointed as Managing Director of the South.
In 1971, the board agrees to ‘set machinery in motion for buildings on hire.’ In 1974 a subsidiary is renamed ‘Wernick Hire’.
In 1975 the first non-family board members are appointed to S. Wernick and Sons, and some, Harry Peacock, Ray Hunt and Don Richards, are further appointed as Group Directors in 1977.
Joe’s son, Julian, and Lionel’s son, David, join the Company in 1978. Julian runs the first hire depot in the Midlands and David works in the sales department at Billericay.
In 1979 Nat leaves the Group due to poor health.
In January 1980 Lionel Wernick purchases Secometric, another timber framed modular building business with a more modern factory based in Wickford. Within months Billericay is closed and most employees are moved to the new site. The acquisition lets the Company move away from having a set range of products and towards the ‘design and build’ concept of modular buildings.
In 1981 David becomes a Director of the construction division.
In 1983 both Julian and David join the Group board.
In 1989 Wernick takes over Swiftplan, another rival modular building company but specialising in steel framed buildings and based in Neath, South Wales. David Wernick is appointed as Swiftplan’s Chairman.
1990 – 1999
Brownhills is closed in 1991 in favour of the more modern factories at Wickford and Neath. Julian Wernick leaves the Group in the same year.
1992 Joe and Lionel Wernick take up the roles of joint Non-Executive Chairmen. David Wernick becomes a Joint Chief Executive with Ray Hunt.
In 1994 a new Executive board is formed to support them including Simon Reffell, Eddie Shaw and Graham Craine.
In 1995 the Wernick Group acquire Hallam Hire, beginning a chain of many acquisitions that follow.
Stephen Potter is appointed the Group’s Finance Director and becomes a full member of the board in 1996. The same year the Wernick Group purchases Vibroplant.
Donald Smith (Container Leasing) Ltd is acquired in 1997, and the impressive expansion continues through 1998 with the acquisition of the northern division of MAC Containers, Samson of Wakefield and the rental business of Alliedcabin. UK Cabins and Portable Accommodation Services followed in 1999. In two years the group invests £8 million in the hire division, which now has 17 hire depots and over 8,000 units.
Wernick Buildings launches Rapidplan 3000 steel framed building system in 1998.
2000 – 2009
Though the Group Head Office remains at Wickford, all production is moved to the Neath factory in January 2000 due to the stronger focus on steel framed modular buildings.
Ray Hunt retires in 2001 and David Wernick becomes the sole Chief Executive.
Wernick Hire continues to expand with acquisitions of Securastore in 2000, the portable building division of JFM in 2003 and between 2005 and 2006 Anglia Cabins, CDC Instant Space, Accommodation Hire from Andrew Skyes and the Selwood Group’s hire division are all acquired. These are absorbed into Wernick Hire, though PK Accommodation, also acquired at this time, is kept as a separate company specialising in the refurbishment of modular units.
Wernick Event Hire is launched at the beginning of 2006, specialising in supplying the event industry.
In 2008, Wernick Buildings launch PCflex, a system of modular police cells.
2010 – 2014
Andy King succeeds Eddie Shaw as Managing Director of Wernick Buildings in 2012. David Wernick’s eldest son Jonathan joins the Events division in February the same year. Wernick Hire also acquire the Kier Group’s entire portable building fleet. The sale also specifies a five year agreement for Wernick to be the Group’s sole supplier of temporary on-site accommodation.
David Wernick becomes Executive Chairman, and Simon Doran is promoted from Managing Director of Wernick Hire to Group Chief Executive in January 2013. Michael Thistlethwaite becomes Managing Director of Wernick Hire. Simon Reffell is appointed as Managing Director of Wernick Construction.
The Wernick Group celebrates 80 years of business in 2014.
John Jaggon becomes new Financial Director after Steve Potter retires
2015 – Present
Expansion continues in 2015. In May Wernick Hire open new Depot in Avonmouth while Wernick Buildings new factory is officially opened by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones on June 4th.
Hewden’s fleet of portable accommodation is acquired for an undisclosed sum in December 2015. The purchase includes 4,000 units and four hire centers.
In February 2016 Wernick’s main manufacturing site in Kenfig, South Wales, is awarded ISO 14001 and FSC accreditations.
Wernick Refurbished Buildings new site at Shipton, York is officially opened by Kevin Hollinrake MP in April 2016.
In July 2016 Wernick Hire launch PMflex, a high quality modular system with 5 storey capability.
Construction MD Simon Reffell retires and is replaced by Ben Wernick in December 2016.
Jonathan Wernick becomes Deputy MD of Wernick Hire and also Group Marketing Director in January 2017.
Seating and Infrastructure division is sold to Arena Seating in April 2017.
In June 2017 Liam Muldoon is promoted to Managing Director of Wernick Events.
In August former TATA Steel boss Stuart Wilkie joins Group as New Managing Director of Wernick Buildings. Andy King moves to become Deputy MD.