Name of business:
Heating Controls and Spares (HCS)
Geoff Smith and David Dunn
Wigan, Chester, Anglesey and Wrexham
A freezing winter that starts well before Christmas is absolutely perfect if you are in the boiler business!
“It’s the best thing that could happen to us,” admits Geoff Smith of Heating Controls and Spares (HCS) whose business took full advantage of the winter’s prolonged cold spell. So much so that he expects to be ‘heads down’ and struggling to find the time to scout for new business until nearer mid summer.
HCS supplies commercial boilers, pumps and heating spares to contractors, health and other public authorities and the general public.
Geoff and his co-director, David Dunn, worked together at another heating merchants before setting up their own business in Wigan in August 1996. “Our customer base was extremely loyal to the two of us personally and they were really supportive when we decided to go it alone.”
Geoff and David went to see Cassons’ partner Les Nutter when they first thought of setting up their own business back in 1995. Geoff says: “Les helped us considerably from the outset. He saw to the legalities and helped with the setting up of the business.” The Chester outlet opened a year later followed by the Anglesey branch in 2004 and Wrexham in 2006. As Geoff says: “We follow the right people to the right location to pick up new business. Even though Chester and Wrexham are only ten miles apart, the Welsh business was simply not coming to Chester. In our eyes there was no option other than open a separate outlet in Wrexham, which has turned out to be a great success.”
“Les has been tremendous and has the patience of a saint. He has always been the person we speak to when we need to bounce ideas. Les sees us as a business – in black and white and takes the personal side out of the equation. His advice has been invaluable.”
Geoff Smith, Joint Owner, Heating Controls and Spares
Today the business employs 20 and at each stage in the company’s expansion Cassons have been there to advise. Geoff enthuses: “Les has been tremendous. He has the patience of a saint. He has always been the person we speak to when we need to bounce ideas. He has been a mother cum confidante! Les has also been an honest broker and challenged us when it has come to strategic and sensitive issues. Les sees us as a business – in black and white – and takes the personal side out of the equation. His advice has been invaluable,” Geoff explains.
Les commented: “Dave and Geoff have always invited us in to discuss their strategic decisions, never once thinking of us simply as number crunchers. This has enabled us to build a closeness of relationship, so much so that it gives me great personal satisfaction and, yes, pride when I see the business go from strength to strength and feel that I’ve made a real contribution.”
“Dave and Geoff have always invited us in to discuss their strategic decisions, never once thinking of us simply as number crunchers. This has enabled us to build a closeness of relationship, so much so that it gives me great personal satisfaction and yes, pride when I see the business go from strength to strength and feel that I’ve made a real contribution.”
Les Nutter, Managing Partner, Cassons
As suppliers of boilers HCS have to be compliant with the government’s green guidelines. Geoff reveals that virtually all new boilers today are the energy-efficient condensing variety. Although gas boilers are the norm today, the firm still sells and supplies spares for oil boilers. “Geoff explains: “There is no gas mains supply to remote coastal areas of Wales and the Isle of Man is predominantly oil-fired.”
When the pressure of the boiler business becomes too high, both Geoff and Dave like nothing better than to hit out on the golf course. They play to respectable handicaps of 15 and 12 respectively.
Historically, heating supply and repair businesses have not been hit too hard in recessionary times. Thankfully for the company, even the best boilers can eventually break down, so if the economic downturn leads to a decline in demand for new boilers, demand for repairs should increase.