FEW organisations could have had more of an impact on York than the 127-year-old firm of family builders, William Birch & Son.

Time and again it has changed the skyline of the city and beyond with its new schools, factories, churches, houses and shops. Occasionally, it has also drastically changed itself, its methods and even its home.

And now is such a watershed, as after three years of miraculous growth in turnover, the firm is set to move from Foss Islands Road, York, to new premises on land it owns in Osbaldwick.

It is hardly surprising that with turnover rising from a little more than £7.6 million for the year to December 1998 to a projected £18.5 million for the end of this year, William Birch & Son is entering the growth Business of the Year category in the Evening Press Business Awards.

Its results clearly justify a three-year strategic plan devised in 1999 to improve profitability and customer service, with £16 million-worth of firm orders in hand, and careful surveys of key performance indicators showing improvement from 7.85 to 8.55 out of a possible score of ten.

The firm has spread its net wider, opening a Leeds office in Horsforth and a tool hire department in Osbaldwick.

But the biggest change by far is to come - by moving out of its Foss Islands Road base which it built 18 years ago and into a £1 million building double the size at Osbaldwick Link Road - an 11,000 sq ft, three-storey structure alongside its depot plant.

"I feel a bit sad about the move and being out of the centre of York," says managing director John Birch. "But it will be far more economic to have the offices and the depot in the same place."

Meanwhile, he is marketing the Foss Islands building and nearly half-an-acre behind it through York commercial property agencies Briggs Burley and Lawrence Hannah.