A GROUNDS maintenance venture has laid the seeds for further growth with a move to new headquarters.
Countrywide Grounds Maintenance has expanded into new premises at the Baglan Energy Park, Port Talbot, to accommodate increased demand for its portfolio of contracts and services.
The £550,000 investment, supported by Barclays Commercial Bank, provides more than 1.8 acres of offices and warehousing facilities for the increasing numbers of plant and machinery.
The franchise business, which currently employs 46 staff, with turnover of over £2m, has grown rapidly since its creation in 1997 and is the largest ground maintenance supplier in Wales.
Established by business partners and long-term friends Ian Michael and Richard Ball, the company works mainly for the commercial market and public sector – cutting grass, maintaining lawns, pruning shrubs and everything else to ensure grounds are well maintained.
Director Mr Ball said: “Since establishing the franchise in South Wales, we have obtained some excellent corporate contracts and grown steadily over recent years.
“As our business is somewhat seasonal we have also diversified into property management under the name of I&R properties.”
Fellow director Mr Michael added: “The future also looks promising as the business hopes to expand services into the education sector. With schools having more and more control over their own budgets we are often able to provide a more competitive service than the current providers.
“This then enables schools to free up some of their budget for other activities. We have big plans for the future but keep our feet firmly on the ground, especially in the current climate.
“We hope to grow the business to employing over 100 staff in the next couple of years and increase the fleet to over 30 vans.
“We pride ourselves on providing a consistent professional service and while it may sound simple, ground maintenance is not as easy as you might think.
“Staff are suitably trained and follow rigorous health and safety procedures. Richard and I started this business 11 years ago and looking around at our new site we must be doing something right.”
Mark Standley, Barclays Commercial Bank relationship director, said: “Barclays is committed to using our industry expertise and specialists to support such propositions, which are vital to a prosperous economy.
“By really understanding the business Barclays has been able to provide innovative solutions to support Country Wide both financially and professionally. The new premises mark a significant step in the business development cycle and we wish them every success for the future.”
Jan 2 2009 by Sion Barry, Western Mail