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Why seeing the wood for the trees makes for sound business success

Why seeing the wood for the trees makes for sound business success
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Why seeing the wood for the trees makes for sound business success

How would you keep your business afloat if one of your major income streams disappeared overnight? That was the challenge facing Theydon Timber, based in our Seedbed Centre in Loughton, when the Greater London Council – which used to order wood from them for all the schools in the capital – was disbanded.  Their story of survival is useful for any business that has a few large clients.

The closure of the GLC could have been disastrous for Theydon Timber. However, they not only survived but now enjoy an enviable reputation supplying wood-working classes around the M25. “When the GLC folded in 1990, none of the schools knew where to source materials for their technology classes,” remembers Managing Director Colin Cavanagh, who has worked for the company since the early 1990s and bought it in 1997.

Rather than being an unforeseen victim of this political upheaval, Theydon Timber used their contacts to make sure they maintained – and even enhanced – their market position: “We employed the old GLC buyer and he had all the school contacts – this was pre-computerisation – and we’ve been supplying schools ever since.”

Surviving in a competitive market  

As well as the education sector, Theydon Timber have carved out a niche for themselves in an increasingly competitive sector: “We need to price ourselves very competitively, and in addition to wood itself we offer all sorts of bespoke products – from mouldings to garden gates and window frames – we aim to be a one-stop shop.”

Although Theydon Timber specialises in providing hard wood in all shapes and sizes and delivering to customers where necessary, its add-on offerings mean it’s able to meet a wide variety of customer needs: “We’re special in that we provide a while-you-wait cutting service, meaning that people can come in off the streets with bits of board, and we can cut it to whatever shape they’re after then and there. The bigger DIY stores also offer this sort of service, but they tend only to deal with large orders – we’re very happy to service small-scale customers, too.”  This approach has enabled Theydon Timber to build a strong client base of small-scale builders and local DIY-ers.

Growing space for a growing business

Theydon Timber moved into Capital Space’s Seedbed Centre in Loughton in 2000, and it has proved the perfect base from which to serve this local clientele. It’s also enabled the company to grow under Colin’s leadership: “We originally had a smaller unit in the Seedbed Centre, and one of the great things about this as our base is that it’s expanded with us. When we outgrew our original home, Capital Space was able to find us a bigger unit to move into – we didn’t have the disruption of needing to move elsewhere.”

However, Theydon Timber has been careful not to over expand, and this has placed useful discipline on the company’s services and product offering: “Because we don’t have masses of room, it makes sense to focus on selling higher-quality products and making beautiful, functional items to order. We’re not about ‘pile it high, sell it cheap’ – we’re about offering great service and great value.”

It’s been important for the company’s growth to be sustainable: “We’ve always controlled our growth. Rather than having lots of staff, we put the emphasis of ensuring those that we do have are as knowledgeable as possible.”

Potentially losing a major client is a fear for any small business. Strategic thinking, however, can turn your fortunes around, and can potentially make your business stronger in the long run.

To find out how  Capital Space  virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667