Connect Childcare Burnley

BURNLEY company Connect Childcare is a small business making a big impact.

In just six years the company has grown from a staff of two to 22, and developed a customer base right across the country.

Annual turnover is up by 20 per cent year-on-year, and the company’s innovative, interactive child development software is now used in 600 nurseries across the UK.

The company is expanding rapidly, and hopes to get its software into more and more nurseries – Connect is now working its way towards having software running in 1,000 sites around the UK.

CEO Chris Reid said: “I’ve brought in a sales team, both telesales and sales people for the North and South to focus on the core market and allow me to focus on the top 30 nurseries.

“We’ve signed up around five of the top 15 nursery companies in the UK, and we’re in advanced talks with another three. This has meant that the company has grown and is continuing to grow.”

The company has also secured investment of around £160,000 from the North West Fund, which has helped grow the business. The fund provides debt and equity finance to small and medium-sized businesses based in, or relocating to, the North West.

Mr Reid said: “The money has been pivotal to our expansion, we had to go through incredibly rigorous procedures to qualify.”

He has also brought in a non-executive chairman who has helped to develop the company. Ashvin Pathak is the son of the founder of Pathak’s curry pastes, and a successful entrepreneur in his own right, who founded and developed his own software business.

Mr Reid said: “I brought him in about three years ago to help build the management side of things, and he’s been mentoring the team.”

And Chris is also proud of the fact that he has brought apprentices into the company – five of whom have been taken on permanently.

Connect has recently been shortlisted in the National Apprenticeship Awards for its commitment to bringing in apprentices and is constantly looking for innovative ways to develop.

Now Mr Reid hopes to transform the electronic records it creates into tangible ‘memory books’ – to do so would expand Connect’s customer base from the UK’s 15,000 nurseries to the 1.8million parents with nursery age children, not to mention grandparents and other relatives.

Northern Industrial Blackburn

BRINGING together the latest web-based technology with obsolescent engineering parts might seem like a unusual match of ingredients but it has proved to be a succesful recipe for Blackburn firm Northern Industrial.

Founded in 1978 by former brewery maintenance engineer John Lenehan, to do industrial automation repairs for local manufacturers, it discovered a growing need for out-of-date automation parts by small companies with old machines.

In 2008, it started advertising a few of these on eBay and discovered a whole new market of companies looking for the same spare parts they had been steadily acquiring for 30 years.

In five years turnover has trebled and profits risen by even more as the family firm has invested in a growing range obsolete electronic automation parts no longer supported by the original manufacturer, new websites and staff.

Even when profits were falling in 2011/12, the firm employed six more staff and moved premises from Glenfield Park to Thwaites Close on Shadsworth Business Park. The result was a sharp increase in turnover, profits and prospects for a small business based on old-fashioned components and the latest internet technology. Business development director David Lenehan said: “We have been able to take on more staff and move from premises with 10,000 square feet to those with 25,000 by finding a market and a way to use it and recruiting good staff.

“There is a nice irony in using the latest internet technology to market old parts but it has worked for us.

“There are a lot of companies in the UK and round the world with old machinery that needs parts that are difficult to source.

“We find the parts and supply them, saving the companies time and money. Our mission is to help firms in the manufacturing sector reduce machinery downtime caused by failure to automation parts.”

With 30,000 lines, and a saving to customers on normal sourcing of up to 65 per cent, Northern Industrial is a small, growing company with big ambitions both at home and abroad.

DP Structures Burnley

DP Structures Ltd, founded in 2004, is a growing Burnley company specialising in the design and fabrication of bespoke architectural and steel structures.

The company has highly experienced in-house design, fabrication and construction teams, which has allowed it to create bespoke solutions, structures and products to meet its customers’ specific requirements.

DP Structures Ltd’s unique selling point is that it provides a full service, from the development of visionary, conceptual ideas and technical designs, as well as a planning and building regulation service, through to the manufacture and installation of architectural structures and installations on site – providing clients with ‘the complete solution’.

Based at a 13,000ft2 factory, the company’s workforce has increased from six to 10 in two years.

DP Structures Ltd is owned by designer and project manager, David Palmer. A skilled fabricator and engineer, visual artist and technical designer, he has worked in the industry for 30 years.

He is also a self-taught sculptor and creator of public art installations, which has allowed his company to expand its portfolio over recent years into producing bespoke public realm works and major public art commissions.

David said: “I’m focusing on three main parts: Environmental, public realm, and commercial structures. They are all linked to fabrication but they are all very diverse aspects of it.

“I’m a designer, fabricator and manufacturer that does everything in one. I’m an employer and have apprentices. We’ve been doing a lot for Manchester Council, for example the Christmas market chalets.”

The company has just celebrated its best, busiest and most successful year yet, and was recently named Burnley’s Small Business of the Year 2013.

David added: “It’s a small business that does big things. We’re a 10-man team that has a factory and welds metal into things. We do our best to try and support the common good.

“Winning would raise awareness through local networks and complement being a member of the Chamber of Commerce, where I’m using other aspects to make people in the locale aware.”