People, Places, Business

Case Study: Smooth Start

Case Study: Paul’s new plastering business starts smoothly thanks to NPT Business Development Team

A Port Talbot man’s specialist lime plastering business has got off to a smooth start thanks to the support of Neath Port Talbot Council’s Business Development Team.

Just Lime Plastering

Paul Walters has received a range of support for his company, Just Lime, including help with applying for a grant to purchase specialist equipment, advice on tendering for public sector contracts and signposting towards recruitment assistance.

Having finished university, Paul Walters spent 10 years working as a climbing instructor with regular travel across Europe. However, with a young family to care for, Paul was keen to spend more time closer to home and so decided to teach himself how to plaster with the aim of starting his own business.

It was when he began to research the plastering of historic buildings that he spotted his gap in the market. “I knew the construction of older buildings often involved the use of lime plaster and started to look into it further. I found a course at the Tywi Centre in Llandeilo and decided that training as a lime plasterer would give me a specialist service that I could offer,” he said.

After completing an NVQ level 3 in Heritage Plastering in early 2013, Paul was ready to take the plunge with his own business. Within six weeks, Just Lime, was off to a promising start and projects were underway across South Wales. However, with further contracts quoted for and a large tender placed for work on a listed property in Pembrokeshire, Paul needed to purchase professional equipment. “More and more enquiries were coming in for work using lime putty which I couldn’t undertake without incurring the significant cost of hiring a specialist mixer. Having to hire also meant time was taken out of my working day picking up and returning the mixer,” he said.

In need of help, Paul contacted Neath Port Talbot Council’s Business Development Team to find out how they could assist his business. “They suggested that I apply for grant support from Neath Port Talbot Council to enable me to buy the two mixers I needed. Thankfully, my application was successful as the equipment has been invaluable since I purchased it in the summer. My quotes are now more realistic as I don’t have to account for the hire costs. Furthermore, I’m putting the savings I’ve made towards buying additional tools and a van,” he said.

With aspirations to grow his business further, Paul plans to apply for public sector contracts and to eventually recruit staff. The Business Development Team has advised him in these areas too.

“It may not be long before I need to take on an employee – however, I had no idea how to go about this. Business Development referred me to Workways, Business Wales and HMRC, all of whom will be able to assist me. They’ve also told me about workshops and one-to-one support available for people new to public sector tendering. Knowing this help is available will certainly be useful.”

Paul acknowledges the value of the guidance he’s received. “If it wasn’t for the Business Development Team, I’d still be hiring mixers or wouldn’t have taken on the work. Whilst the financial support has made a big difference, the knowledge and advice available to me has been just as vital. I’m sure I’ll make good use of it as my business grows.”

Most importantly, Paul has embraced the lifestyle of running his own company. “The best thing about working for myself is the flexibility to work the hours that suit my busy home life and flexibility to influence the direction of my career. What's more, the financial rewards are recouped by me and not someone else,” he said.

To find out more about the support available from the NPT CBC Business Development Team visit http://www.npt-business.co.uk/ or telephone 01639 686835 or email business@npt.gov.uk .