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Two decades of sturdy business success

Alan Taylor with Capital Space MD, Peter Boam
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Alan Taylor with Capital Space MD, Peter Boam
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

As one of the longest-serving customers at Capital Space, Alan Taylor of AT Blinds knows how to build a business sustainably. Succeeding for over two decades while based at our Sittingbourne Business Centre, AT Blinds has powered through a recession and a tumultuous Brexit. Alan has some pearls of wisdom to share as he reflects on his business success.

The origins of AT Blinds

After starting his blind-making and fitting business in 1991, Alan Taylor moved to St George’s Business Park in Sittingbourne in 1999 –  and was one of the first customers to set up shop there. Having outgrown the sales roles that he’d held at several blinds companies, Alan decided to strike out on his own, using his acquired expertise in the sector. Today, things have come full circle: one of the companies he used to work for is now a main supplier of AT Blinds.

When he learned that Capital Space’s St George’s Business Park had vacancies back in the late 1990s, Alan was particularly attracted by its ‘easy in, easy out’ policy. He believes Capital Space’s easily accessible location has helped him build domestic sales, thanks to the Business Park’s proximity to central Sittingbourne.

Thriving from local trade

Having advertised in magazines and local papers in the past, the most effective means of business promotion Alan has discovered is word of mouth – repeat customers recommending AT Blinds has seen the company step up its success over the years. A relatively new innovation, a company Facebook page, has also generated lots of enquiries and calls.

“I would say that most of our business - about 70%  - is domestic,” explains Alan, meaning that the company is often making bespoke blinds for homes rather than businesses. “We travel further for commercial jobs. We’ve fitted blinds across a wide area, from Milton Keynes to Devon.”

Keeping it in the family

AT Blinds began with Alan as MD, with his son-in-law Darren joining soon afterwards. Today, Alan’s son, David, also works in the business, and he wouldn’t have it any other way, saying “When working with family, you can say what you feel and be honest.”

At 72 years old, Alan is ready to take a backseat and allow his family to continue the business – with almost 30 years of success, it’s a valuable heirloom.

Business obstacles

In recent years, AT Blinds has been at its most successful,  something that may come as a surprise given the uncertainty that Brexit has brought to small businesses. It’s not the first time that the company has had to face external challenges, however, as, in 2008, the recession hit.

“Back then, we had to adapt – we made some changes to our services and our domestic business gradually began picking up,” recalls Alan. Having to diversify to survive has been one of the business’s key priorities – AT Blinds is always prepared for change.

Alan is also aware of competition in the blinds sector, but luckily, he doesn’t feel there are many competitors in Sittingbourne. Even if there was, he’s not fazed.

“People like going to a family company that aren’t in it for the money or are going to give them the ‘hard sell’. We’re always happy to come back and fix any issues should they arise, too. We don’t take the money and then stop providing the service that customers expect. It’s an ongoing relationship.”

Words of advice

Alan’s advice for building up a business is to believe that you can succeed, and to follow dreams and instincts. He also believes in sticking to high standards: “Don’t scrimp and save when it comes to customers, offer them reliable, quality products and a great service.”

To find out how  Capital Space virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667