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Victoria Bendall / Lucy Lomas
Space at Hoo Farm Case Studies
It’s OK in Space!
Two joiners who were made redundant when Kidderminster firm Sealine went into administration have turned their talents into a brand new business making bespoke furniture.
Tibor Kunya and Mirek Ochnik had both worked at Sealine for seven years, making cabinetry for the motor cruisers the company was famous for.
Both were committed to remaining in the Kidderminster area as their families are now established in the town. After looking for jobs that required their specialised skills and talents, without success, Tibor and Mirek decided to focus their energies on setting up a joinery business with a difference.
“Our expertise is in designing, creating and fitting innovative furniture for small spaces. We love the challenge of making bespoke furniture to fit a specific space with a specific function.
“Our skills completely lend themselves to creating kitchens, bookshelves in tight corners, desks and workstations and fitted bathrooms and cloakrooms. We have also launched a range of handcrafted garden furniture which proved popular last summer and we intend to add to for 2015.”
“The difficult bit was where to start in setting up our new business. We are very grateful to a friend and neighbour Sandra Weidrick of Someone’s Art who was most encouraging and advised us to talk to the Council about business start up grants and how to find suitable premises. This has proved to be excellent advice and made all the difference to us in getting the business off the ground.
“As we needed a workshop, this was an important starting point for us. Our timing turned out to be good. The Space business centre at Hoo Farm Industrial Estate had just been re-developed by the council as a place for new and growing businesses. We were invited to have a look at the available workshop spaces and we saw straight away that the one with the roller shutter door was perfect for our needs.
We qualified for a 50% rent reduction for the first year as a new business. This has made a huge difference for us as it means we can budget ahead. We were able to invest in tools and machinery for our workshop using a business start up grant.”
Marketing the business has been one of the biggest challenges for the two joiners who have no previous experience of direct sales and marketing. They have taught themselves how to use social media and now find this an important business generator. With recommendations from satisfied customers taking pride of place on their website, the lads are now building a growing business and are looking forward to designing and producing bespoke furniture across the Wyre Forest and beyond. They both say it’s very OK to be in Space!
Kolorkraft finds its creative Space
In the seven years since Stefan Graham has owned Kolorkraft Professional Imaging, the company has moved three times and has now found its ideal home at Space, Hoo Farm Industrial Estate.
Extra space to grow and proximity to customers were the reasons for this last move says Stefan, who is proud of the evolution of the business which is now regarded by a range of customers as “being part of our team.”
This ‘go to’ reputation has been won through dedication to customer service and the ability to turn problems into solutions where digital imaging is needed.
“We always go the extra mile to make sure our customers really get the outcome they are looking for. Being a small business means we can be flexible and completely creative and are not governed by prescribed solutions. Customers come to us saying, “I have this idea of what it could look like but need help to make it happen.” My favourite thing is finding creative solutions and turning ideas into reality.
Our new workspace provides the perfect set up to be near our customers, many of which are in Kidderminster and Wyre Forest, and it’s a great facility to do business in.
We enjoy working with other creative people as neighbours. Within the Space business centre, there are graphic and web designers, furniture upholsterers, a motorbike repair business, and a joinery firm. There is a real buzz about the place and we can catch up over a coffee in the shared kitchen or as we meet customers in the communal reception area.
The Council did a good job of creating this centre for local businesses. I don’t know of anything else like this so I’m glad we had the opportunity come here to take the business forward.”
The KolorKraft service now extends to exhibition printing, banner stands, Foamex print panels, acrylic display panels, scanning and digital copying posters, vehicle livery, MDF and canvas wraps, light boxes banners, vinyl cut graphics all types of print finishing, publicity merchandising such as mugs and T shirts and restoring old photographs.
Bev is enjoying her creative Space
“A real luxury for a creative person is to have a dedicated space to spread out your materials and let your imagination fly.” So says Bev Hampshire, business owner and designer who has moved into a workshop at Space, the business centre for new and growing businesses at Hoo Farm Industrial Estate, Kidderminster. With a dedicated creative space of her own, Bev is now exploring her creativity as well as making lampshades and cushions to sell in her retail shop in Worcester city centre.
“I had been looking for a space away from home where I could both store my work materials and focus on my work without distractions. A chance conversation in my shop in Worcester directed me to the new Space business centre where I was told there was flexible workshop space available. As soon as I saw this bright clean unit, I knew it was for me.
“One of the best aspects of the centre is the 24/7 access so I can work whenever I want. There is now a growing band of occupants in the building – all doing different things from supplying motorbike parts, a graphic design studio, a furniture upholsterer and a web designer. It seems that the building is attracting creative people from all sorts of sectors. I am impressed that Wyre Forest District Council has had the vision to create this centre where fledgling businesses can get off the ground and people like me can take the next steps in expanding their horizons.”
Space offers a range of sizes of workshop units so if you need more or less space over time, you can probably be accommodated. This is helpful for those of us who have ideas for doing other creative things, there is space to grow which always good news for creative people!
The rents are affordable and new businesses have a 50% reduction on the rent in the first year, and a 25% reduction in year two. My unit is not eligible for business rates, and my only other expense is the heat and light which is metered individually for each unit. There is free Wi-Fi in the building as well as plenty of parking – useful for when we have supplier deliveries.
I really look forward to coming into my own work Space and I’m already making plans to develop new ideas and creative projects over the coming months.
To contact Bev Hampshire please call 07887 369823.
Julia realises a motorcycle dream
When Julia Bishop from Bewdley made the life changing decision to give up her long term teaching assistant job in 2013, the pressure was on to find a base to launch her new motorbike parts business.
Julia said, “After years of being around motor bikes and having bikes of my own, my partner and I agreed that it was time to turn our interest into a business. We wanted to meet the local need for supplying parts for motorbikes of all makes and ages.”
We’ve been selling parts on eBay for a while, but many enthusiasts want to look and touch what they are buying – especially if they are restoring an older bike. Many of the older Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki bikes have interchangeable parts. This means there are lots of parts around and lots of choices for buyers. We’ve been collecting parts and stripping down bikes for years, so we needed somewhere secure and spacious to house our growing stock.
Finding affordable premises that are modern, warm , dry and suitable for housing motorbikes and space parts was pretty challenging. We were really pleased when our business advisor - directed to us by the business support team at Wyre Forest District Council - suggested we look at the new Space business centre on Hoo Farm Industrial Estate.
Fortunately there was a workshop available that suited our needs and had secure outside space to store petrol, anti-freeze, and brake oil.
There was no need to put down a big deposit or commit to a long term lease which is reassuring when you are just starting out. The space we’ve opted for is ideal, and although we only moved in a few weeks ago, we’ve settled down really well and new customers are already coming to see us. Another benefit here is the 24 hour access to our unit, so if we want to work late or over the weekend, that’s fine. It’s good to be able to receive orders from suppliers at a professional address as it all helps to build your reputation – most of our business comes from recommendations and word of mouth.
Our plan is to build the business over the next few years so that we can hopefully move into a larger place of our own. This is a great stepping stone for us and the fact that we have a 50% reduction on the rent in the first year, and a 25% reduction in year two means that our overheads are manageable. We’re not eligible for business rates, and our only other expense is the heat and light which is metered individually for each unit. We use the free Wi-Fi for our computer and mobile phone. We couldn’t have done this without the help of Wyre Forest District Council and this Space centre, so we are really glad we took the leap and turned our interest into a business. We’ve called it Loose Nuts.
To contact Julia at Loose Nuts please call 07929 371474.
Adam has used his creativity to build a business
Whilst still at school, Adam Collins now aged 20, decided that he wanted to be his own boss and start a web design business.
Adam said “I’ve always enjoyed design and IT and I spent loads of my own time working up ideas on my Apple Mac. I knew that University wasn’t for me, and spurred on by encouragement from my family, I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. My first job was to building my own website. My first ‘proper’ client was a family friend who was a musician. From the start I really enjoyed the creative process of taking what a client told me about themselves and their aspirations, and then turning that into a website to provide a shop window for their business.”
The Pixel Stack, has gone from strength to strength and now, Adam has taken the next step to move into his own office. With more than 30 clients on his books there is a steady stream of working coming through the door.
Adam has chosen the Space business centre in Kidderminster as the new home for his growing business. He said
“I met an existing tenant at Space at a networking meeting who recommend it as a bight, modern place to work.. I came and looked round the building which has been created as a flexible work space for new and growing businesses by Wyre Forest District Council. Straight away, I could see that it would work really well for me. Not only was there an ideal sized office available and ready to move straight into, but the tenancy terms are very reasonable and flexible too, so I didn’t have to sign up on a long lease. I also love the idea that there are other start-up businesses working here. I can invite clients to come and see me and they are coming to a professional environment which I think is important as I grow the business. Another big advantage of Space is that you have your own front door key and you can come and go as you need to and there is plenty of free parking outside.”
“It has been hard work getting the business rolling and I have been fortunate to have the support of my family since I started. To others thinking of starting up their own business I would say, go for it! Be prepared to put a lot of hours in and keep at it. Trust that you have the ability to succeed and don’t be afraid to ask for help from organisations such as the Council.”
Plans for the future include the possibility of taking on an apprentice which is an exciting thought. When the time comes, I’ll talk to the Council about this as I know they provide support with apprentice schemes too.”