Tag: AD:VENTURE business support programme

York engineering consultancy makes a splash

A York structural engineering consultancy, which has worked with top hotels in London, has taken the plunge to move into new offices to cope with increased demand for its services.

JME Consultants has seen business boom, with profits up more than fourfold in just over a year. Set up by Jack Merrett in 2019, the consultancy has just moved into new offices at Westminster Place just inside the York ring road and has recently landed its 200th project.

Clients range from home-owners to large national construction firms, and include 5 Star hotels in London, with design for swimming pools. JME Consultants have also advised large house building firms over the structure of foundations; designed the remedial works for a footbridge at Northallerton School and Sixth Form College, and designed everything from steel frames for large industrial units to straw bale and eco-friendly homes.

Jack had worked in the industry for many years, before deciding to set up his own business, with help from his wife Anna Oultram in her spare time. The company currently has one full-time employee, structural engineer Steve Margrove, with plans to take on another within the next few months. JME Consultants also uses three sub-contractors who are experts in CAD design.

“The five-year plan is to get to around ten members of staff, with the longer-term aim of having 20 to 25 staff,” said Jack.

“There is a tendency within the industry to put profit before people. We wanted to establish a business which puts people first, is realistic about workloads and operates with openness and transparency.

“It’s all about keeping standards high and treating everybody well, both clients and staff. We want to create a real collaborative atmosphere, where the people who work here don’t want to leave.”

The company has been given support, including a grant, by AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in York, North and West Yorkshire, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Jack said: “Neither me nor Anna had run a business before. It was going really well, but we needed someone with a more holistic view. We wanted someone independent to give us advice and a nudge in the right direction, and of course you are not going to turn down funding.”

They were given a grant of about £3,600 from AD:VENTURE, which they had to match-fund, which contributed towards a specialist printer and additional software licences. But Jack says it is not just the funding that has helped.

“It’s an independent voice. They are not doing it for their own needs they are doing it to help you. You never worry that there is an ulterior motive; it’s honest and independent advice which is incredibly valuable.”

AD:VENTURE has funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region, including City of York Council and the region’s other eight  local authorities; the Business Enterprise Fund; the Prince’s Trust; Leeds Beckett University; West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning at City of York Council, said: “It is encouraging to see how job creation in the city can be encouraged through public sector working with the private sector to bring benefits to the city, and the wider region in terms of sustaining employment and developing skills.

“And it’s great to see that a nudge in the right direction by AD:VENTURE can pay dividends in terms of job creation in areas including sustainable construction techniques and green jobs.”

Yorkshire software developers looking to recruit after huge growth

Two former Huddersfield University students who set up their own software development business are celebrating after seeing turnover more than treble in the last year alone.

Torchbearer, set up by Peter Waugh and Jon Langley, has had to move twice since it was set up in 2016 to keep up with demand, and is now looking to take on more staff.

The business was set up after the pair received funding from Huddersfield University’s Enterprise Placement Scheme and specialises in mobile app design, website development and game development, working with a range of clients in Yorkshire and beyond.

Torchbearer was initially based at 3M Buckley Innovation Centre but wanted to move to a larger premises to meet their growth plans. The company moved to Huddersfield Media Centre after receiving grant funding from AD:VENTURE, a business support programme for new businesses in North and West Yorkshire funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered in partnership with local authorities including Kirklees Council.

After their move, Torchbearer grew so quickly that they soon realised they needed their own bespoke office. Thanks to further growth funding, they were able to adapt their new home on Old Leeds Road to suit their needs. In total, £8700 of funding has been granted to the company.

Since their latest move, Torchbearer’s growth has accelerated hugely. As well as their crop of local clients, they work for a leisure holiday firm and have recently started working with a Hong Kong bank. Director Peter Waugh said: “We were operating at around 60 per cent growth, but in the last year that has shot up to 480 per cent.”

The company is now looking to create two new jobs to add to its five-strong team. An office administrator is required to deal with day-to-day operations, and another software developer will be recruited later in the year as the company expands its current crop of clients.

Peter added: “It’s not just the grant funding we’ve taken advantage of – pretty much every resource we can access through the AD:VENTURE programme has been utilised and it’s been great all the way through. As we’ve gone along, we’ve always had a new problem to tackle, but their advisors have always been there with the right advice of how we can solve it.

“Since starting the business we’ve always believed it’s really important to listen to what other people are saying to us. We have a vision for where we want the business to go, but we don’t necessarily have a clear idea of how we can get there.”

Cllr Peter McBride, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Kirklees Council, said: “Torchbearer are a fantastic example of how business support programmes can be instrumental in giving exciting local businesses the tools they need to grow, which in turn creates jobs and prosperity for the region. We are delighted to be a partner in the AD:VENTURE programme and are looking forward to helping many more small businesses like Torchbearer to reach their full potential.”