Brick-tinting firm lays foundations for growth
Original article written by Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership's Growth Hub
A Staffordshire construction industry business specialising in brick tinting is laying the foundations for future growth by working with Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Hub.
Family firm Bebbington Brick Services, based at Bradley, near Cheadle, has been using and marketing the masonry colour correction products invented by its founder George Bebbington for nearly half a century.
Its expertise in correcting the colour of mismatched brickwork has featured on TV programmes Grand Designs and DIY SOS, and led to an increased demand for the firm’s products and services. This led Managing Director Mark Bebbington and Business Development Manager Simon Morley to approach the Growth Hub for advice on how best to take the business to the next stage in its development.
They have since had a series of meetings with a Growth Hub Mentor to develop a growth strategy, which includes plans to expand the manufacturing side of the business, recruit more staff and develop new approaches to marketing.
They were also signposted to Keele University’s Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP)*. Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, KRISP helps small firms to innovate and grow by providing additional personnel and academic expertise.
KRISP has matched Bebbingtons with two Keele masters degree students, who have recently begun working with the firm to review and test its online marketing strategies to raise awareness of the Bebbington brand and increase direct sales.
The firm has also recently entered a partnership with Shropshire brick supplier Imperial Bricks, who specialise in traditional handmade bricks for restoration and renovation projects as well as bespoke new-builds. The Bebbington brick-tint range will be sold by Imperial as a complementary product that instantly ‘ages’ and matches the appearance of existing brickwork. It will be available from local builders’ merchants such as Huws Gray, EH Smith and Emerys, or directly from Imperial’s Shifnal depot.
“We just seemed to crash around like a ball in a bagatelle game when we first started looking at future possibilities,” Mark Bebbington said. “It can be difficult to know where to start and to work out which sources of funding and support would be most suitable.
“Our Growth Hub adviser is very helpful as someone with in-depth knowledge and commercial awareness and as an outside pair of eyes looking at the business.”
Simon Morley added: “We are also very pleased to be working with the KRISP scheme. At no cost whatsoever to us, we have access to 200 hours of graduate research and support from a couple of high-calibre students who are really excited to be working with us.
“Like the rest of the construction industry, our major challenge is that skilled staff are in short supply, so recruiting and retaining good people remains a struggle. We're keen to hear from anybody, including female candidates, interested in learningtheart of masonry tinting. Of course the Growth Hub can’t fix every problem for us when those problems are industry-wide. But, along with Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, it has been a great source of support in lots of different ways.”
LEP chairman David Frost CBE commented: “Small businesses such as Bebbington Brick are the backbone of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire economy and services such as our Business Helpline and Growth Hub are vital in helping them to grow and flourish.
“Our key LEP objectives include creating an enterprise culture which encourages innovation and develops skills, and helping to foster a supportive environment for start-ups and growing businesses.”
For more information on the LEP’s support for businesses call the Business Helpline on 0300 111 8002 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent businesses can benefit from a range of specialist support and funding. Interested companies should contact the University’s Business Gateway on 01782 733001 or email email@example.com.
*The KRISP project (ref: 32R16P00711) is part-funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds England Growth Programme 2014-2020.