Engineering and Manufacturing
Manufacturer sheds light on 80 per cent increase in demand
It was a familiar story when lockdown first hit this particular small business in Gloucester – but then something incredible began to happen.
This year was meant to be a celebration of 10 years at the reins of their business, but like many others when lockdown came on March 23, a party was the furthest thing from the minds of owners Nick Bailey and Simon Wildsmith.
After taking over the company a decade previously and working hard to build the reputation of Master Sheds as a quality manufacturer and builder of bespoke sheds (from potting sheds, summer houses, school tuck shops and garden bars to cricket pavilions and beyond), it was the ‘f’ word (furlough) which sprang to mind.
With all the inherent risks that would come with mothballing a business, and two young staff members to think about – Jake MacDonald and Carl Crowther – they had to make a decision, and quickly.
“They were determined not to go down easily,” said Jayne Bailey, a spokeswoman for the business.
“So, they decided to continue to fulfil their outstanding orders with the time and material they had and assess the situation.”
Which brought its own problems. Supply chains had fragmented and they had to work hard to source what they needed, but in in other ways the nature of their operations worked in their favour.
Delivering to customers was still possible as fitting took place entirely outside and build and design within its spacious warehouse showroom in Sudmeadow Road, Hempsted – allowing everything to be done safely within social distancing guidelines.
“And then it happened. We normally get about 10 email enquiries a week to 60 and now it has gone past 80,” said Mrs Bailey.
That really did stress the supply chain, but she said loyalty built up over years with some brilliant Gloucester merchants – like Nicks Timber and Jays Timber - was returned wherever possible.
Pictured above: Simon Wildsmith (left) and Nick Bailey
“I think it was a combination of the good weather and everyone being at home suddenly. People have been rediscovering gardening and then, of course, there is home working. That has suddenly become very big – and people don’t always have room inside,” she said, with home offices and potting sheds suddenly becoming all the rage
Master Sheds bespoke operation means it can fit one of its wooden wonders into just about any space, with as much or little glass as is wanted, doubled-glazed with insulated walls or not.
It will deliver within a five-mile radius of Gloucester free of charge, with an additional £1 per mile within a 50-mile radius. But the demand for sheds has been coming from far and wide.
“We get lot of local enquiries, but we have had people from Hartlepool, Kent, South Wales get in touch and even from Inverness. People just go online, search, find us and email.”
All of which has pushed that word - furlough – completely out of the picture.