The Yorkshire Times Seasonal Spotlight - Dave Ogden, Smith Brothers
Katie Mallinson, Features Writer
We grab 60 seconds with Dave Ogden, commercial director at Smith Brothers, in this exclusive seasonal spotlight for The Yorkshire Times…
What was your primary business objective at the start of the year?
We had two main objectives that we set out to achieve in 2017 – firstly, to expand the business and secondly, to extend our client base. Now we’re at the end of the year, I think we can safely say we’ve successfully achieved both, and we’re already getting started on our plans for 2018!
Looking back on 2017, what have been the 3 biggest highlights for Smith Brothers?
The first has to be the new office – as a result of our significant expansion last year, we had outgrown our previous space in Huddersfield and it was time to move onto bigger and better things. So, we invested £750k into purchasing and fitting out a 10,000 sqft property at Lowfields Business Park in Elland at the beginning of the year, and we’ve never looked back.
Speaking of growth, this year has also been especially exciting as we’ve begun expanding our services in Ireland. Having already worked on assignments over there, we’re no strangers to the market and are looking forward to furthering our expertise as an independent framework provider. The renewables sector in particular is looking promising across the Irish Sea, and there is certainly a lot on the horizon in the way of solar, wind and battery storage projects.
And last but not least, we recently welcomed a new managing director, Nick Gudgeon, on board. We’ve been steadily building the management board over the last few years, and have established a really strong team to take the company forwards. So, now that Nick is heading up the business, founders Richard and John have stepped into the roles of joint chairmen. They will still have a lot of say in Smith Brothers’ direction, but with the reassurance that the everyday operations and strategic decisions are in Nick’s safe hands.
What has been the most difficult challenge for your business?
The biggest challenge recently has probably been ever-changing technologies in the renewables market. Tech is constantly evolving across all sectors, but as the drive for sustainable energy continues to increase, the demand for innovative and efficient solutions is only getting higher as well.
For us, this means that investing in the ongoing training of our workforce is crucial. Having the right skills, expertise and experience within our team is what enables us to keep up with the latest developments and continue providing our trusted services within this fast-moving market.
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That’s an easy one – Huddersfield Town! We might not have the HD postcode anymore, but we’re a Huddersfield company at heart, and watching the underdog rising through the ranks to reach the Premier League this year has been nothing short of inspiring.
The club’s promotion has really brought the town together, and it’s brilliant to see the community united in their support. Of course, there are a few rogue members of the team who would disagree with me, but they’re very much outnumbered…
And I can’t mention Huddersfield Town without dropping in about the Shooting Stars Award we received earlier in the year – the club is doing a great job of supporting local businesses, and their own rising stars are sure to bring even more of a boost to the area over the next twelve months and beyond.
And one to watch in 2018?
We’re expecting to see good things from Halifax-based energy saving firm SolPV Group. The company provides services to boost energy efficiency for residential and commercial properties, helping to mitigate environmental impact and reduce costs too. They also specialise in installing and maintaining solar panels and are becoming well-known in the industry as one of the UK’s premier providers of Solar PV systems. They’ve had a great year and we’re looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings for them.
What’s Smith Brothers’ key goal for next year?
Having surpassed our targets for turnover this year, we’re determined to keep up this momentum as we move into 2018. We never stand still as a company, so our main goal will be to continue growing the business through securing new clients and building strong relationships with them.
Anything you will do differently?
There’s no one thing we’ll be looking to change, but we are always seeking out ways we can further enhance the services we deliver to our clients. For example, this year has seen us channelling more resources into our service and infrastructure division for smaller works, as well as our power and grid division – the main, turnkey side of the business. So next year, as we continue to extend our services in Ireland, we’ll be focusing on growing our client base over there along with the UK.
How do you think the regional business climate will fare?
There’s still a lot of uncertainty thanks to Brexit and ongoing negotiations around our departure from the EU, but in general there’s also some optimism surrounding growth in the North. We’re hoping to see the Government’s Northern Powerhouse initiative boosting the economy up here as promised – there’s been a lot of talk about it, but we’re ready to see some action.
How will your team be celebrating Christmas before the break?
It’s become something of a tradition for Smith Brothers now to head over to Holdsworth House Hotel for a spot of dinner and a lot of dancing.
Describe Christmas at your house, in three words
Fun, family and fast – it’s always over too quickly!
Want to feature in The Yorkshire Times’ seasonal spotlight?
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The Yorkshire Times Seasonal Spotlight - Dave Ogden, Smith Brothers, 1st December 2017, 21:14 PM