If you ask Chris Blair from Thirsk Furniture what the most critical part of manufacturing is, then he’ll tell you that “it is how long it takes to build your product.”
Time is critical in manufacturing and your time is what you’re selling to your customers.
You don’t have a lot of control over the costs of your raw materials but you do have control over what you’re spending your time on and if you can save on that, you can be a better business.
Chris knew that when he came to us to get funding through our Business Grant Programme.
Thirsk Furniture is a small business next to the A19 with great growth potential. In the past five years it’s doubled in size to a staff of 25 and has national clients throughout the country who buy in bulk its tables and stools including KFC, Gordon Ramsey’s Restaurants and Waitrose’s Restaurants.
With big clients like that, it needs to speed up its production process and that’s where we came in.
Chris wanted grant money for a CNC machine, that’s an industrial piece of equipment that can cut, finish and drill holes in wood with professional accuracy in a fraction of the time it would take a real person to do it.
Less time cutting, drilling and finishing means he can get his products out of the door faster, at higher standards, meet his customers’ demands and take on more orders.
And that’s what’s great about Chris’s business. He doesn’t want to save time and cut down on his staff. He wants to save time and grow his business by expanding his team.
We gave Chris £5,000 towards the cost of the new CNC machine and that helped him to hire a new member of staff.
Now that might not sound like large regional growth, but businesses like Chris were exactly who we had in mind when we set up the Business Grant Programme.
The programme funds up to 20 per cent of a business’s capital costs as long as doing so creates new jobs.
Elsewhere in the country, businesses have only been eligible for these job creation grants if they’ve had a minimum expenditure of £50,000 which excludes the ambitions of many small and micro companies.
That was never going to work for our region; 99 per cent of our businesses are micro or small and they’re good, strong businesses that we can fund.
Compared to the national average, our businesses are more resilient during economic downturns and more likely to survive for long periods of time. We have 48,000 small and micro businesses and 12,000 unemployed. If every one of our businesses created one job, we’d wipe out unemployment four times over. That’s why we’re aiming for small business growth.
So, whilst similar funds in other areas of the country were targeted at projects with a minimum size of £50,000, we successfully fought to lower our project threshold to £25,000.
Of course, that isn’t to say that we’re not here to support larger businesses as well.
We’ve funded The Yorkshire Brewery to expand into new premises and create up to 17 new jobs in the region and by the time you’re reading this, we’ll have finished funding our latest round of businesses.
If you want to apply, now is the perfect time.
For businesses, the application process is simple. If you look on our website then a simple eligibility process will tell you if you can apply for the grant or not.
The money’s targeted at businesses who have been in existence for at least a year and who can source 80 per cent of the rest of the costs to cover the capital expenditure of a project that will create at least one new job.
That money could be from their own reserves, it could be from a bank, it could even be from an alternative support organisation like Finance to Yorkshire or the Business Enterprise Fund.
The important thing is, if you like the idea of being a growing business like Chris, get in touch.
We’ve fought hard to support small business and we’re here to help you.