Case Study 

Cae Wennol Yurts

The Business Challenge

Without enough land to farm commercially, Managing Director Avril Humphreys had to find a way to diversify her 16 acre family runsmallholding. To avoid the prospect of drastically changing her rural way of life, she needed to raise enough funds for the upkeep of the property. But Avril was passionate about conservation and finding an eco-friendly solution and decided to add a new dimension to her business. She created the ultimate ‘Glamping’ – glamorous camping – experience and set about transforming her dream of a ‘Yurt Retreat’ into reality. She already had one Yurt – an authentic Mongolian timber framed tent structure - in place, but planned to purchase a second larger Yurt as soon as she received planning permission. But the first major setback was having her first planning application turned down. “Having to apply for planning permission twice took more capital than I’d budgeted for – it was quite a shock to be turned down the first time,” says Avril. “Ireally needed all my funds to purchase the second larger Yurt so families could appreciate the benefits of eco-friendly glamping as well.” Finding out about the LIF grant was a real lifeline for Avril’s plans.

How the LIF Grant was Used

The £3,000 LIF grant was sufficient to purchase the second larger Yurt and some superior furniture and fittings to ensure visitors to the rural ecoretreat enjoyed the highest standard of facilities, “More superior - more glampy,” says Avril.

The Benefits of the LIF Grant for Cae Wennol Yurts

Receiving the LIF grant not only safeguarded Avril’s livelihood, but it provided enormous encouragement to help her persevere with her unconventional venture. It represented ‘official’confirmation that her business concept was a viable proposition. With no previous experience of this business environment, the whole venture was built on Avril’s self belief, and with the approval of the grant, her beliefs were validated. “No matter how confident you are, it is always reassuring to have evidence
that your plans are realistic and achievable. It was far more than just financial support,” says Avril. The extra injection of funds arrived just when she needed it most and enabled her to create the sustainable ‘Glamping experience’ she originally envisaged. With her environmentally friendly eco-retreat fully booked for the rest of this season, Avril already has bookings confirmed well into next year. ”If I hadn’t been able to do this,” says Avril, “I would have had to shrink my world. Now we will be able to grow the business steadily and take our time to move things forward in the way we want to.”

Civil Engineering Solutions Limited

The Business Challenge

Specialising in solving problems associated with all aspects of drainage and flooding, the servicesprovided by Civil Engineering Solutions (CES)are increasingly in demand. However it is a highly competitive business and for a smallconsulting company like CES it needs to keep a keen competitive edge. Because the company did not have the necessary equipment to carry
out all the work themselves, part of its highly specialised investigation and reporting process has involved outsourcing specific aspects to external contractors. This meant incurring considerable additional costs and created time delays. “Many of our clients need urgent reports for compulsory planning requirements.These are usually for new building projects,” says Director Joanne Roberts, “and with clients leaving their requests for assistance to the last minute, which is a characteristic of the business, producing the survey report quickly is even more essential.” To make sure the outsourcing contractors included the very precise information CES needed, the company also had to ask (and pay for) more details than they actually required.With CES continuing to grow, there was also a requirement to furnish a large new meetingroom and two additional offices.

How the LIF Grant was Used

The LIF grant enabled CES to purchase an essential item of survey equipment – an electronic measuring theodolite - which would remove the requirement for outsourcing work to external contractors. Some of the funds also purchased furniture for the office expansion accommodation.

The Benefits of the LIF Grant for Civil Engineering Solutions

“Our new capability helps to streamline the process and increases our competitiveness,” says Joanne. “The service offered to our clients is much improved resulting in an upturn in repeat work being commissioned. The in-house surveying capability provides more control on quality and significantly reduces delays experienced when outsourcing to other contractors.” By removing the need to use external contractors, CES has been able to achieve at least a 50% reduction in the costs of
preparing reports for their clients. “More importantly, we can give a better service to our clients,” says Joanne, “so the perceived value for money has improved significantly. We are competing with national and international consultants and we can now compete on equal terms. We now have that all important competitive edge by being able to carry out more of the work ourselves, saving time and money.” With the additional newly furnished office space, CES is also able to arrange client meetings in a professional environment - another essential requirement for dealing with prestigious contracts. The LIF grant has helped to take the company into a new league for business. “We are now serious contenders within our industry, especially for elusive local authority contracts and we can now compete on equal terms. Using the grant has helped provide job security
for the whole team and gone a long way to securing future growth and stability.”

Diagnostic Innovations Ltd (DIL)

The Business Challenge

Diagnostic Innovations Limited (DIL) specialises in the development, manufacture, sales, and technical support of test kits for professional laboratory and self-testing use. In particular, its products assist in the diagnosis of allergy. “In such a technical and rapidly changing marketplace, our business will succeed or fail depending on our ability to attract large retailers and international distributors,” says Chief Executive, Peter McCulloch. “So it’s vital for us to have a professional and easily accessible website. We previously had two separate websites - one for domestic consumers and one for food testing laboratories. Neither of these represented our products effectively and probably hindered rather than helped our marketing efforts.” The requirement for a new website was long overdue and was seriously restricting business growth.

How the LIF Grant was Used

The LIF grant funded the creation of a totally new customer friendly website that now presents a highly professional corporate image. Integrating two pre-existing underperforming sites, the new site offers leading edge capabilities including a sophisticated online ordering facility and advanced search engine optimization with an excellent content management system. The site provides separately branded services for both private and trade customers and allows the company’s products to be presented to maximum advantage. DIL also used the opportunity to create a new corporate logo which reinforces the improvements to the corporate image.

The Benefits of the LIF Grant forDiagnostic Innovations Limited

DIL has experienced a revitalisation of its business. There has been a 20% increase in website ‘hits’ since its new site went live, and more importantly, the company has also seen an increase in actual business generated by the new site. “New international distributors would not even consider using us if we did not have the advanced facilities that our new website provides, “says Peter. The company has added a new dimension to its business and its transactions are proving much more costeffective, actually saving DIL money on processing orders in a much more efficient way. As part of the project, DIL has also developed software for affiliate marketing partners, which has helped to increase the quantities of goods sold by increasing the number of website resellers. “It’s early days yet,” says Peter, “but our affiliate marketing links have been brilliant with new customers finding us almost on a daily basis.” Having the new website has also improved morale and motivation across the whole company - the new site is clear evidence that the company is moving forward. ”We are optimistic that we are in the right place at the right time with the right products,” says Peter, “and now with our improved Internet accessibility the future is looking extremely promising.”

Mon Maintenance Services

The Business Challenge

Redundancy can be a shattering blow, but when Andrew Samuel, Wayne Allman, Stephen Evans and Andrew Williams all from the same shift, were axed from their jobs with Anglesey Aluminium, they were quick to spot a new business opportunity. Recognising that many other companies were cutting back on their own maintenance teams, Andrew and his colleagues set up Môn Maintenance Services to offer mechanical and electrical fitting and associated services – capitalising on their expertise.  When things get tough,” says Andrew, “the maintenance teams are the first to go. But the companies still need a maintenance service, so we wanted to use our experience and offer a service to plug the gaps.” With a commitment to their families and
colleagues to stay on Anglesey, the four new entrepreneurs pledged to secure a living for themselves and for as many of their redundant co-workers as possible. Determined to make a success of their new venture, the Môn Maintenance team set about targeting the domestic, commercial, industrial and leisure sectors. But to challenge the established service providers in these areas, they had to have the latest equipment and significant credibility. And with no previous experience of running a
business, they all had a lot to learn very fast.

How the LIF Grant was Used

The immediate requirement was for a fully equipped workshop, so the £5,000 LIF grant funded the purchase of essential tools and machinery. This enabled the company to get established and start competing for business – especially for tackling big contracts - more quickly.

The Benefits of the LIF Grant for Môn Maintenance Services

Having the LIF grant freed up sufficient funds to enable Môn Maintenance to apply for and be awarded two vital accreditations. Firstly, thanks to the newly purchased state-of-the-artequipment, the company achieved ISO 9001 accreditation after just two months of trading.This would normally have taken around a year. With this official recognition of quality, the company now has the opportunity of applying for contracts with the nuclear industry which insists on this standard from all its external contractors. Môn Maintenance also applied for and was successful in achieving the Construction Industry Health and Safety accreditation. This is an essential requirement for securing contracts with local authorities, so again the grant has significantly improved the company’s business potential. Now, able to compete on equal terms with the more established service providers. Môn Maintenance has already employed three more of their redundant colleagues. “It’s been a very steep learning curve,” says Andrew, “but we have achieved our initial objective and created a future for ourselves, our families and even some of our colleagues. Thanks to the LIF grant, we’ve done all this much more quickly and established a company that’s able to compete on equal terms - especially for major contracts that would otherwise have been out of our reach for quite some time.”