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Hard craft – growth secrets of traditional joinery company

Crafted & Co has worked on traditional projects around the UK offering bespoke joinery services and has grown into a £5m business in just eight years. Katie Barker finds out more about the company’s growth secrets.

Founded 2005

Location Gateshead in Tyneside

Turnover £5m

Number of employees 45

Traditional joinery company Crafted & Co has become a £5m business in just eight years through securing repeat business, using high-quality products and most importantly offering a service that can’t be found easily elsewhere.

“We have been trading for around eight years and have built up a good solid reputation with lots of end-users as well as main contractors,” says Crafted & Co managing director Ken Smith.

The company works on a range of traditional projects including restaurants, hotels and private homes, but each job provides its own unique challenges. “We work with lots of individual themed pubs and restaurants, which requires us to get involved in the design and manufacture of one-off items,” Mr Smith says.

“Recently we have made a huge pagoda for a pub out of green oak and an ornate staircase for a private residence in Newcastle. Most weeks we do something different.”

The importance of repeat business

Repeat business is one way the company plans to continue its growth, and has been a cornerstone of its success so far.

“Because of our excellent end product and quality of service we get lots of repeat business,” he says. “This repeat business has kept us reasonably busy.

“Sourcing new clients and markets has been difficult over the last few years because of the recession, but we are always out there looking for new opportunities. We recently rebranded, which was a strategic move to try to open a few more doors.”

A unique offering

Offering a service that is hard to find is another reason the business has grown so quickly and has managed to remain steady throughout the recession, according to Mr Smith. “Because our joinery is bespoke and purpose-made it is difficult for people to go elsewhere,” he says. “You cannot buy what we provide off the shelf.

“Put simply: we offer a service that is not easily found elsewhere. There are not many joiner shops that can offer the product and service that we can.”

“It is difficult for people to go elsewhere. You cannot buy what we provide off the shelf”

Ken Smith, Crafted & Co

Although much of the news is positive, every business faces challenges and Crafted & Co is no exception. “We want to keep growing and moving forward by having the right structure to enable this,” Mr Smith says. “Our biggest challenge is having the time to ensure we have the right structure in place.

“In our industry we’re so busy with hitting today’s and tomorrow’s deadlines, it’s hard to find the time to plan for the future.”

Investing in talent

One way the company does try to do this is through investing in new talent. As a traditional company with distinct skills, Crafted & Co has invested in its apprenticeship scheme and works with local colleges to recognise young talent.

The company takes on one apprentice a year, offering a young person the chance to learn the craft and ensuring the business and team are constantly developing.

“Our experience, history and highly skilled workforce allows us to confidently take on new challenges and opportunities,” Mr Smith says.

“If we had not invested in this, we may not be able to look as confidently towards the future. I know other companies in our line of work have not made the investments we have and are not as well prepared as us for the future.”

As the business continues to grow, clients both existing and new provide a series of new opportunities for Crafted & Co. “I see future growth from continuing to provide our existing clients with a good level of service, but also through attracting new clients,” Mr Smith says.

“New clients introduce us into different environments and markets, which opens a number of opportunities.”

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