More than 90 years after Philip Cavanna started the homebuilding business which bears his name, members of the Cavanna family are still helping to shape the company’s future.
The firm which grew into the Cavanna Homes group was founded in 1923 when master plasterer Philip – also known as PD – arrived in Paignton with his younger brother Ray to start a business using the family savings.
Although Ray was to later set up on his own, it soon became clear that Cavanna Homes was to remain a family business. By the early 1950s, PD had been joined by three sons and a son-in-law, and in the 1970s and 1980s, a third generation of the family came on board, including Jeremy, Jonathan and Martin Cavanna who are still at the helm today.
Now, members of the fourth generation of the Cavanna family are also joining the business. Among them are Mike Cavanna and Ben Rowntree.
Mike works in the accounts department, having completed a business management course at the University of Gloucestershire before replying to a Cavanna job advert and going through a competitive interview process.
He said: “As part of my course I did a year’s placement working in accountancy and thought it was something I’d like to pursue. I wanted to do something that would help me in later life as well as something I enjoy.
“Cavanna Homes is a great place to work, really enjoyable. It’s a family business, producing homes for families, and there’s a really positive family atmosphere among everyone who works here.
“It’s been really helpful to learn more about the business as well as the family history. It’s also been a great opportunity to get to know other members of a very extended family!”
Meanwhile, Cavanna Homes had been creating a company apprenticeship scheme to encourage young shareholders to spend 12 months in the business, learning about the firm and the housing industry.
As part of the apprenticeship scheme, Ben, now a Land Assistant, spent time working in each of the departments which make up a modern home building business, to give him a firm grounding in the company and the industry, as well as attending special training events with shareholders.
Ben is married to Sarah, who is a member of the fourth generation. His role involves helping the company maintain a steady supply of future development sites.
He said: “The firm has a great ethos, and everybody is working towards the same goal – that’s not always been the case in other places I’ve come across!
“The training we have had has been good fun and has given us a great insight into the company and how it is moving forwards, as well as the many and diverse roles available in housebuilding.” Cavanna Homes director Jonathan Cavanna said: “Members of our family have been building homes for people in the South West for the best part of a century, and we’re very proud of our roots.
“As a member of the third generation of the family, it’s very satisfying to see the next generation coming on board.
“The training we are giving the next generation of shareholders – whether or not they work in the business – is an integral part of our succession planning as we seek to equip them with the confidence and competence to be ready to step up and lead the business forwards in the future.”