This year, The Akeman in Tring is celebrating 10 years since Peter Borg-Neal opened its doors in December 2007 as the first Oakman Inn.
Since then the flagship pub has become a firm favourite with locals and has been the inspiration for the rest of the Oakman Inn group. Under the guidance of the Tring-based entrepreneur, the company has grown to an estate of 18 sites across the Home Counties and West Midlands with an annual turnover of more than £25m and employing over 500 people.
From day one, Peter’s son, Eamonn, has been working his way through the ranks of Oakman Inns and last month, he took over as general manager of The Akeman - and for his father it was a very proud day.
Peter said: “It is a key part of the Oakman Inns approach to our people that we give everybody the opportunity to be the best they can. This is achieved by a huge commitment to training and development and the creation of a meritocratic environment that allows everybody with the necessary talent and commitment to progress through the ranks. I think that’s why we were recently named as among the top 10 employers in the UK in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For 2017 list.
“The vast majority of our top general managers have worked their way through the ranks and Eamonn is no exception. His first job was in 2007 as a glass collector and cellar boy at the age of 16 and last year he became the general manager of The Akeman Inn in Kingswood. He did a stellar job there and that is why Alex Ford, our operations director, has taken the decision to give him the responsibility of running our flagship site. I am incredibly proud of Eamonn and of the commitment he has shown over the years.”
Eamonn, 25, has always had a particular attachment to The Akeman: his father opened it while he was still a young teenager and it was the first place he worked.
“I share my father’s passion for hospitality – it’s been a part of my life ever since I can remember,” Eamonn said.
“We had a similar start to our careers. We both started at the bottom of the ladder – as a cellar boy working part time after school.”
Eamonn then moved to the kitchen, firstly as a kitchen porter before being promoted to commis chef. When he turned 18 he switched to the role of bar tender and flourished becoming an accomplished cocktail expert and cellar man. After spending a year working in bars in Australia he returned to the UK and started to progress through the management ranks of Oakman Inns.
He explained: “My father always wanted me to be more than ready for any roles I wanted to move into in the future and made it clear that I had to progress through all the necessary training and management levels. When people ask me why I want to work for Oakman Inns, with the added pressure that comes from working with your family or parents, the answer is simple - I just ask them to find me a better pub company in the United Kingdom that I would want to work for.”
Eamonn will be overseeing The Akeman’s extension and refurbishment work later in the year which will include the return of Peter’s authentic Forno Vivo pizzas in time for its 10th anniversary in December.
He added: “Being brought up in Tring, I’ve watched The Akeman grow up and become a significant part of Tring’s community and I can’t wait to get back and catch up with old friends and regulars. If you’re new to the area, please come in and introduce yourself.”