THEY were boyhood pals who grew up together.
And now 26-year-olds Lee Caldwell and Peter Crowe are going from strength to strength as business partners after making a move into the removals trade.
The two Hartlepool men have known each other since their days at Brierton School.
They both left school at the same time and both joined the Army with Lee spending eight years with the Royal Engineers - progressing to Lance Corporal - and Peter rising to Corporal during his ten years with the Green Howards.
They saw service in countries including Bosnia but both have now left the Army and are running their own business called Focus Removals, based on the Parkview Industrial Estate in Hartlepool.
“We do everything from personal to commercial work. We do house clearances and waste removal. We are fully insured and we have a waste licence,” said Peter, who is married to Emma Crowe, 27, and has three children Taylor Higgs, aged eight, Ashton Crowe, aged five and four-week-old Mason Crowe.
It was Lee, who has a fiance Cheryl Jones, 26, and three children Ella, aged five, Amelia, aged two, and 11-week-old Ava, who started the business.
Peter explained: “Lee had a van and people were asking him to move things. It made him realise that he could go into the business.”
The friends decided to make sure they prepared properly and turned to the Prince’s Trust to help them get started.
Lee and Peter enrolled on a business course in Middlesbrough and also got £6,000 of support to buy a vehicle.
Peter said: “We have done a business plan and cash flow and we have tripled what we expected in cash flow.”
Now the pair are hoping to include a specialist line to Focus Removals. Peter explained: “We want to help people coming out of the Army by giving them a discount. We also plan to offer advice as well so that people, even if they don’t use us, can ring us up at any time.”
Peter said the business had already been regarded so highly, it was in the running for a Prince’s Trust award.