Community Finance Helping Business Grow

Article excerpt

Aspecialist kitchen company, Quality Kitchen Makeovers, has recently been helped by the local community development fi-nance institution (CDFI) to expand and develop new storage space after being turned down by its banks.

Black Country Reinvestment Society (BCRS), the Wolverhampton based loans company, has helped business owner Paul Loynes expand Quality Kitchen Makeovers from the landmark Oak Lodge Buildings at the bottom of Furnace Hill in Halesowen.

Mr Loynes enjoyed a career in finance before working overseas.

On his return, he decided to set up Quality Kitchen Makeovers first as a sole trader, then as a limited company established in 2007. The business specialises in kitchen makeovers, but has since diversified into new kitchens, bedroom, studies and bathrooms.

"I put a considerable sum of my own money into building the company", said Paul. "I took a lease out on this building when it was practically derelict, and developed it into a showroom, stockroom and offices. We are at a busy road junction with plenty of passing traffic, and free parking, which works well for us.

"We take existing kitchen carcasses and fit them with new doors, adding new worktops and tiles if requested. It's a cost effective way of giving an older kitchen a new look. Since that side of the business took off, we now also offer new kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms.

"I was looking for funding to develop the next phase of my business as I wanted to expand and have storage space for stock. I went to my bank, which was unable to help but referred me to BCRS. They came out to see me and agreed to make us a loan. The money has been spent on growing the business and expanding into another unit on the Hill Crest Estate, where we carry our stock.

"Business is very good for us right now and we employ four staff here. I want to develop another three showrooms, but to do that I will need to bring in an investor, so I am actively seeking one at present. I'm looking to raise around pounds 100k, as this will enable me to take on around 20 fitters and support staff which I will then train to our standards.

"Our fitters are the best and we can supply all of the major names. We train all our staff, who are all employed by us. We now have four teams, and they have been with me from the outset.

"If I hadn't been referred to BCRS I wouldn't have survived, and I just can't imagine going back to being employed. The vast majority of our customers are retired, and I believe the reason we are so successful is, they trust me; they don't feel threatened.

I visit them personally and oversee the job, and they always come back.

"I left financial services because I wanted to get my teeth into doing something that I really enjoyed. The best part of this business for me is getting out and meeting people. My retired customers are a joy and I love listening to their stories. …