Founded in 1928, Summerleaze is a privately-owned company, with origins in the field of mineral extraction. The company has diversified substantially since then, into fields such as waste management and renewable energy. Operating as a small, dedicated team, the company aims to innovate to make the most of under-valued resources. Summerleaze backs ideas that it believes have a strong future on the basis of long-term fundamentals, regardless of, and often contrary to, perceived wisdom or fashion.
The founders of Summerleaze, Robin and Ruth Prior, started in the gravel industry almost by accident.
He grew up in Oxford but went to work for an engineering firm in Maidenhead, before turning his attention to gravel extraction on a site owned by his father-in-law.
Staying in the gravel industry, he pursued a career as a contractor, constructing equipment and extracting gravel for a number of other landowners. His success convinced him that the way forward was to buy his own sites and Summerleaze formally came into being soon after World War II.
Over the intervening years, Summerleaze has successfully worked and restored a succession of sites in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, substantially contributing to the built environment in the Thames Valley.
At the end of the 1960’s, the restoration of former gravel workings provided the opportunity for the Company to diversify into landfill which by the 1980s had paved the way for power generation from landfill gas. This business, known as Summerleaze RE-Generation, developed into the largest independently-owned renewable energy business in the UK through acquisitions and organic growth. In 2006 it produced over 310 GWh of electricity.
Following changes by the Government on biodegradable waste diversion, the landfill-gas business was sold in January 2007, however renewable energy remains a significant part of Summerleaze’s focus with the ongoing development of businesses in Anaerobic Digestion and Renewable Heat (in the form of wood chip). These elements – gravel, waste, and energy – are the key components of the Summerleaze of today.
Peter Prior joined the business in 1962 and is now chairman/managing director. He is joined on the board by his son Bruno, Mike Lowe and Jeremy Malkinson.