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Recession Road: Colsterworth

Phil Coomes | 09:25 UK time, Tuesday, 15 September 2009

This post is from our Recession Road series, part of our special report on the global downturn.

Dave Ostler

First overnight stop was a Travelodge near Colsterworth in Lincolnshire. In the village, we went to see local builder Dave Ostler.

Gordon Brown is preparing to give a cautiously positive speech about economic recovery to trades unions at the TUC conference today, and Dave thinks things might be looking up too.

But as a house-builder - in business with his son Michael - he's really noticed the recession. Staying busy has meant chasing the work more, and being more competitive on his prices.

Have a safe journey sign at the Travelodge"People have knocked me down - they've quoted the credit crunch and said 'Can you give me a credit crunch price?'. I was a bit loath to do it but it meant getting a couple of extra jobs and I think that's what I had to do. I've had to make a lot more effort to secure work."

To maintain his workload and take on more where possible, he is also working longer days and more weekends than before.

With the housing market going stale, he's doing a lot more extensions and renovations, as people decide to sit tight instead of trying to move. The Ostlers themselves had planned to move but gave up after having their house on the market for a year.

Dave's wife Gail is also connected to the building trade - she does the books for his business and has now started her own business doing the same for other local firms.

She still has a part-time job with a different building firm too, but saw the writing on the wall a couple of years ago when profits started to slide. That firm is now being wound up and staff laid off.

"She felt with this credit crunch looming that she better not leave her destiny just in the hands of one firm so she started her own business and she has done very well in building up a client base."

With son Michael showing enthusiasm for the family firm and daughter Jade, 17, doing well at catering college they have no major concerns for their futures, although some of their friends are struggling to get work, says Dave.

"I've always been very optimistic. I've always managed to keep busy so I've got no reason to doubt that. There's a saying that you're only as good as your last job, and that keeps me on my toes."

You can read an explanation of our Recession Road series here. Words: Paula Dear; Images: Phil Coomes.

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