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“No room for complacency,” say Fastest 50 winners

The Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 awards celebrate the fastest growing businesses from across the North East. In partnership with The Journal, businesses are recognised for their continued growth, innovation and success.

The fastest growing small business winner this year was Newton Aycliffe based Aspect Facades. The company specialises in the design, supply, installation and maintenance of cladding and roofing systems. Alongside Ward Hadaway’s Alistair McDonald, we speak to co-founder Dan Parker to learn more about the success of the business and how it’s carved out a niche expertise in a highly competitive sector.

“Andrew and I had worked in the construction and cladding sector for years and we both believed that a different approach to projects could be taken,” says Dan, who established Aspect Facades in 2017 with co-founder Andrew Howe. “We felt the industry had become a bit stale, resting on its laurels and using traditional methods of working without thinking of ways to innovate and move the sector forward. We decided to quit our day jobs and work as contractors until we secured work. As we had a lot of connections from our years of working in construction, we managed to win our first project pretty quickly. We also took on our first apprentice almost immediately to help us deliver it.”

That project was in the region of £15,000. Today, Aspect Facades is delivering multi-million-pound contracts and has established long term partnerships with several well-known UK construction companies including Wates Construction, Tilbury Douglas, and Bam Construction. Since its inception, the business has grown by 360% year-on-year and has steadily expanded its workforce to match continued growth. It received £150,000 of early stage investment from NEL Fund Managers to facilitate start-up growth.

“We work in a very specialised sector of construction which requires a specific skillset,” Dan explains. “Although we’ve brought some experience into the business, the majority of our employees start with us as trainees and are given the relevant training and development to acquire the skills needed to provide the niche building services we offer. We’re also focused on developing local talent and upskilling people to do the jobs we need them to do. In return, they enjoy a long term, lucrative career in a constantly innovating sector. Because of our investment in our people and skills development, our team is highly knowledgeable and talented across all areas of the business, from estimating and sales, to design and quantity surveying.

“Relationships are a key focus for us, whether that’s with our people, partners or clients. We don’t operate on a transactional basis. We live and breathe our projects, and we’re proactive in offering ideas and suggestions for any challenges. We’re not afraid to speak up when we believe a project would work better with a different approach. And I think this is what sets us apart from other companies that offer similar services to us. We always strive for continuous improvement – there’s no room for complacency.”

And it’s this niche service offering and focus on innovative and progressive methods of working that’s reaped huge rewards for Aspect Facades. Now 35 people strong, the business has recorded an £18 million in turnover this year and a substantial increase in profit since it was established.

Alistair McDonald, business development director at Ward Hadaway, said: “Aspect Facade’s success story is a prime example of how a skilled workforce is instrumental in driving business growth. Their commitment to developing and nurturing talent from within has not only fuelled rapid expansion for the company but also set a benchmark for excellence within the construction industry. The business invests in its people and prioritises talent development which has enabled it to bring a specialised skillset to projects and drive continued growth. Well done to Aspect Facades for winning the award for the fastest growing small business of the year, it’s a credit to Dan, Andrew and the whole team.”

In the next two to three years, the goal for the company’s six-strong leadership team is to reach the £25 million turnover mark and continue to hire two to three apprentices per year.

Dan adds: “Success, in my view, is a direct reflection of the quality of people within the business. As business owners, it’s really important to build and nurture an engaged, motivated and skilled workforce. Andrew and I have learnt that it’s not about knowing absolutely everything about the sector you operate within or the best solution to the myriad of challenges you face, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who do. That’s the secret to continued innovation and progress which, in turn, drives growth.”

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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