ABOUT THE COMPANY
What do you get when you bring together an industry expert with many improvement ideas, a businessman looking for local investment opportunities and an ambitious architect? Answer, an innovative company from West Yorkshire that is able to capitalise upon the growing demand for housing, while also allowing the UK to compete with the standards that have been set by Europe and America.
This may sound like the plot from a ‘How to guide to business’ but it is the genuine story of three businessmen; Paul Williamson, Gordon Lorimer and Jake Hinchliffe.
With more than 20-years’ experience in the timber frame design, manufacture and erect industry, Paul recognised the rapidly growing demand for timber framed buildings. As a rapidly expanding specialism that is embraced and regularly used by construction firms in America, Europe and even Scotland, Paul saw an opportunity.
Coming together with Gordon, a prolific businessman and Jake, a well-connected and ambitious architect, the concept behind TimberTight Ltd was established.
The company would use timber, a more environmentally friendly alternative to bricks and mortar, to create frames that would take less time to implement and allow for the process of building a property to run concurrently in a factory whilst works progress on-site.
As the frames are developed indoors, there are none of the usual challenges with weather conditions and they can be constructed in tight timeframes and budgets. An all-round better idea, than continuing to work in traditional and somewhat cumbersome ways.
The company now employs 14 people and is working with clients and competitors that need suppliers that they can rely on to offer capacity within the rapidly growing timber frame marketplace.
We wanted to address the capacity in the marketplace. There was big demand, but we also wanted to bring innovation to the processes that we use, such as how we work with builders to achieve the best construction, environmental and financial outcomes. We were in a competitive position before we even started as we could use lessons that had been learnt by Paul Williamson, our MD, over many years and improve the product and services we would offer
With the increase in demand for homes throughout the country, TimberTight set its sights on working with residential and commercial property developers throughout West Yorkshire. It quickly established itself as a credible brand and was soon working on self-build, social housing, local government projects and other commercial buildings.
As a young business, the company was invited to an AD:VENTURE event in Cleckheaton. Recognising that the organisation could benefit from some advice, the directors went along. It’s difficult to keep up with everything that is going on when you start-up, there are lots of things to think about. We were aware of business support that was being offered both in terms of practical assistance and grant funding but had no idea where to go to access it. So, we dropped in at the event to listen to what was being said.
We were aware of business support that was being offered both in terms of practical assistance and grant funding but had no idea where to go to access it. So, we dropped in at the event to listen to what was being said.
Gordon comments: “We worked with Paul Tansey from AD:VENTURE. Not only was he very pleasant but he was a seasoned businessman. At first, we couldn’t work out why he was asking so many business strategy questions, but we soon realised that it was needed if we were to benefit from the advice and guidance he could offer.
“We expected some hints and tips but what we got was free, professional business consultancy that helped to shape the future direction of our organisation.”
Working with the processes, plans and advice that had been given, TimberTight decided to proceed with an application for a match-funded grant from AD:VENTURE and received just over £22,000 which was used to purchase upgraded machinery that would allow for precision high volume cutting of timber.
As a result of these purchases, the business was able to gain a competitive advantage and also to employ seven additional staff to run the equipment, expanding the business and offering further opportunities to local people that were looking for work.
Thanks to the associations and partnerships between business services, TimberTight has also accessed support from Kirklees Council and Works Better, an employment support programme part-funded by the European Social Fund and delivered across Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield.
The Works Better team provided help and guidance in relation to recruitment and workforce development. The company has since been able to expand their workforce and with the help of the AD:VENTURE funding create sustainable employment opportunities.
Gordon continues: “A lot of the people that work for us were unemployed. Knowing that we were able to give them a job and a career was great. Many of them and very local and walk to work. This has changed their lives for the better and built up staff loyalty very quickly.
“We took on an apprentice, Ben, through the Works Better programme, and he is now a very competent employee. It’s about thinking slightly differently for the benefit of the business and those living in the communities around you.”
Karl Battersby, Strategic Director for Economy and Infrastructure, Kirklees Council, comments: “Working with innovative and progressive businesses like TimberTight is really encouraging, not only have they identified a rapidly expanding specialism, but they have embraced it and created a business model that is sustainable as a result.
Knowing that we have market leading talents in Kirklees and that these skills are being passed to a workforce that are able to develop their career within a local organisation, gives us a success story to share with others”
With the increase in demand for homes and buildings throughout the country, TimberTight set its sight on working with residential and commercial property developers throughout West Yorkshire. It has quickly become established as a credible brand and is responsible for self-build, social housing, local government projects and commercial structures.
Gordon comments: “Paul was able to explain the processes and support us as we put our business plans in place and filled in the forms for the grant application. The process is very robust and thorough, which you would expect when you are accessing this level of professional service and funding.
Taking the guidance and putting it into practice allowed us to really think the whole thing through and to mature our business and thoughts about the future. We were in a much more confident position about our ambitions and the targets that we would put in place.
For others that are considering contacting AD:VENTURE, I would positively endorse everything the programme offers. It isn’t just about getting money or support with growing your business, but also about the advice.
It was a really positive experience for us and knowing that these people were genuinely interested in our company and future was really significant. They weren’t paid for listening, they came to us and really delivered. We couldn’t ask for more than that.”
Paul Williamson, concludes: “TimberTight is an even stronger business than before thanks to the help we have accessed from AD:VENTURE. The new business that we have won through our enhanced competitiveness is proof of that.”