The Santander Small to Medium-Sized Business of the Year Finalist Focus: Andy Makin

Tell us about your business.
EnviroVent manufactures energy efficient ventilation solutions, designed to improve indoor air quality and eliminate condensation and black mould in homes across the UK and beyond. Our ethos is built upon the development of sustainable products designed to last the lifecycle of a building; our innovative Lifetime Range®, which includes award winning extract fans and sophisticated heat recovery systems, is manufactured at our factory in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. We sell to a various markets including private builders and developers, homeowners and registered providers.

How did you fund your business?
In the beginning, EnviroVent was originally funded through a secured personal loan and the working capital was provided by an overdraft from the Bank of Ireland.

What is the biggest challenge SMEs are currently facing?
The biggest challenge we have faced as a business is the never ending conveyor belt of regulation and legislation both from the UK Government and Agencies and the EU on virtually every subject. It takes enormous amounts of time and sometimes the high cost of external expertise to assess the impact of these new initiatives. Occasionally they are beneficial but more often than not they hinder progress. How you overcome this flood is a daily challenge.

Can you give any advice to others starting up businesses?
People are the backbone of any good business. Find good people, pay them and train them well, then expect and monitor their progress. Aim to keep and reward them, losing good people is a very expensive and counterproductive to business.

How do you foster innovation throughout your business?
As a British manufacturer, designing and developing innovative products is fundamental to our success. We have reinvested a huge amount of money into R&D and over the past year we have launched 4 new products. In addition to this, through our clearly defined objectives for growth, we actively encourage our employees to become part of the corporate vision through team work which is an essential part of the company’s daily routine. By cultivating a team sprit everyone feels valued and important, proud to be part of the region’s manufacturing history and passionate about the goods which we produce.

How are you managing the challenges associated with fast growth?
Our rapid growth over the last 12 months as presented EnviroVent with various challenges. To ensure that the demands of our expanding business were met we had to reorganise our production facility. We purchased new machinery to handle the excess volume of work, this ensured that orders were met and despatched on time. At the same time, we also recognised the need to expand our warehouse and order despatch facility. In April 2014, we picked up the keys for what would become our new distribution centre, the work on an extensive refurbishment project commenced soon after.

On Monday, 28 July, we were delighted to welcome the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, to officially open the new EnviroVent distribution centre. Our new distribution centre will provide us with the space to increase product lines and respond to demand quickly and more efficiently. It has also created new jobs in the local area.