Economic Development want to support existing businesses to grow and attract new inward investment into the district as we believe Huntingdonshire is the place to be if you are a business owner. The two case studies below highlights the growth of local businesses and how they both found new premises on-patch to operate from, and why it has proven to be successful in the work they provide to its customers.
Case study 1: Equipment Support Company (ESC) Limited
Equipment Support Company (ESC) Limited were founded in 1991, in Graveley, by Duncan Rhead and David Wastell. They had previously worked together for a company based in High Wycombe, although they were both from the Cambridge area. ESC originally provided service support to the semiconductor industry and was based in David’s home. They now specialise in creating, selling and supporting bespoke vacuum processing equipment, automation and control systems, Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) systems and high voltage test systems. In creating their products, they purchase component parts, typically from abroad, build their equipment in Somersham and then sell the final product both in the UK and abroad. Their products are used by many sectors including, food processing and packaging, research and development, manufacturing and electronics.
The company has moved between Cambridge and locations to the west of the city, each time expanding into larger premises where they have typically doubled floor space, as their customer base and product portfolio has increased. Their most recent move was from Cottenham to Somersham, where they found a location which offered a combination of office and manufacturing facilities, and room for the company to expand. They had originally been looking to move to St Ives before finding their current property. They found that there were lots of available warehouses and office space, but the combination of both office and manufacturing space in one location was not so easy to find.
The main reason for building the business in Cambridgeshire was that both the founders lived in the area and as the business developed, and they employed staff living within the local vicinity, it made sense for them to stay here. They find the “Cambridge” name is internationally known and supports them in building a customer based abroad. The location also provides good access and communication, whilst not suffering the high price of Cambridge City property and housing. In addition, it is seen as a pleasant place to live and easy to commute to for their staff who tend to live either north towards March or west towards Huntingdon.
They originally found recruiting quality staff relatively easy, but it has become harder in recent years and they see this as one of the biggest challenges they face. Since COVID-19, their software engineers have been working from home, where before they were based in the office. They see this as likely to continue to some extent, and that working from home for these types of roles will become much more the norm. The other most significant change is the impact it has had on their ability to generate and support new customers abroad. An important part of the sales and post-sales support, which is a big part of their revenue stream, is to fully understand the customers’ requirements which cannot be done effectively remotely. This has been hampered by the difficulty in travelling abroad, particularly to the USA. Importing components and exporting products has not been as greatly affected, although a higher percentage of their current clients are based in the UK. They have historically generated customers primarily through word of mouth, but now that they have the space to manufacture more products, they have employed a sales director and are using exhibitions effectively to increase their customer base. The affects of COVID-19 on sales is harder to judge at this time because the time between sales and product delivery can be 6 months, which means they are currently creating products from pre-covid sales. It will be nearer January when any drop in sales with have an effect.
Their current premise provides them with the space to expand for the foreseeable future, so they do not anticipate moving out of the area.