This is a follow up story for The Hygiene Company. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I'm Jonathan Bradford, founder of The Hygeine Company, a business started through personal experience.
In 1976, I eft school with what I considered to be very little education or indeed O / A levels results to say I was a bright lad capable of learning. Interestingly enough my parents never asked to see my results.
I can’t honestly say I liked school, why would I, I found it difficult nothing seemed to sink in and stay there.
In leaving School I did, however, sign on for college which I did enjoy but unfortunately it only lasted 1 year – the second year closed down after two weeks due to a lack of attendees.
Out to work helping out on a large 4 colour industrial printer ( I was just the young lad feeding paper into one end , whereby it would go through the print rollers and come out the other end looking lovely, from memory this last 12-18 months
Then on to work at my Dad's engineering factory whereby I went through all different aspects of production, using CNC punching machines to welding to preparing metal pre-painting to paint to assembly and packaging.
Not realising at the time just how much work experience meant to me.
For 12 years my elder brother, sister and myself Imported promoted and distributed Windsurfing and snow skiing / boarding equipment, this was not only fantastic fun, a job which I never really saw as a job but more a case of having fun whilst at the same time making a good living - little was I to know the experience and knowledge I was gaining would help set me up for life.
1992 after 12 fantastic years we lost a major windsurfing brand agency which in turn meant I was now out of work.
In 1992 having found myself unemployed I decided to join the local Health & Fitness club. Playing lots of Squash & Racketball going into the gym - soon recognized an opening for antibacterial wipes in Health & Fitness to wipe down equipment after use .. then started our journey.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
How did we react to the demands of the pandemic?
2020 Covid hits – demands for product goes through the roof to the extent we must implement a NO new customers policy simply look after and service existing customers only.
Demand was such that we and to commission the services of 6 additional suppliers from around the world to try and meet the demands of our customers.
In order to meet demands, in addition to our UK supply’s we soon found ourselves in a position whereby we had 20 x forty containers on route from the Far East , in between the orders being placed, shipped and arrival (usually 12 weeks’ time scale) we suddenly found ourselves in a position whereby the country is in lockdown , everybody is canceling orders due to the fact businesses were shut and we had nowhere near enough storage space, panic sets in.
By the end of our financial year in 2020 – 2021 whereas we were on target to hit £6m - due to lockdown we ended up at £3.7M not bad considering pre-Covid we were at £1.5m, the point here being it shows just how well we as a company reacted, the team pulled together and worked what felt like 24/7 to meet customer demands.
Frantically searching the UK for additional storage, we were lucky enough to find local storage in a clean dry warehouse within 6 miles of our offices.
February 2021 and we have in the region of 500 pallets stacked high and waiting for businesses to re-open, by late 2021 we are getting through the stock and placing orders for more production.
2022 we’re off to a flying start business is plentiful, yet how long we can continue at this pace is to be seen.
It has been a full-on past 24 months without a break. We have had to take on additional staff and production throughout this pandemic. I feel it would be a mistake to assume business will remain at this rate as has been proven time and time again. People soon become complacent, lazy, forgetful, or simply can’t be bothered.
After all, It is was nearly 200 years since Ignaz Semmelweis recognised the importance of washing ones hands – it seems to take a pandemic for us to appreciate the importance of clean hands and clean surfaces.
2020 -2021 end of the financial at £3.7m 2021 – 2022, We look to be on target for £2.6m, yes down on 2020 – 2021 but that’s to be expected given as a country we have experienced lockdown on several occasions with businesses closed, people working from home, offices at low occupancy.
It’s a new world out there, all businesses have had to adapt and re-evaluate how they operate, we can but hope people have learned the importance of clean hands and clean surfaces.
As a final thought!
Whereas the best form of cleaning one's hands is undoubtedly soap and water and correct drying procedure, for this kills, removes, and washes dead bacteria down the sink, whereas antibacterial gels may kill germs and bacteria, this dead bacteria remains on your hands, yet an antibacterial wipe not only kills but it also REMOVES germs & bacteria.
We specialize in antibacterial wipes dispensers, antibacterial wipes, hand sanitizers, and monitors which record compliance to cleaning procedures and report any issues of concern in real-time.
Unlike many that jumped on the bandwagon throughout the pandemic, this has been our business for 30 years. We supply product around the world, with our products being found in locations such as The US Embassy In London The Houses of Parliament, P&O cruise liners, Oslo Airport, Schools & Universities, Offices Health & Fitness, shopping centres, in fact just about anywhere, where compliance to good hand & surface hygiene is recognised as important .
The next 12/24 months – watch this space we continue to Innovate Design & Manufacture.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Stick to what you know - there have been so many companies from so many different industries jumping on the bandwagon to try and capitalize on a Pandemic . So many getting their hands burnt ending up with thousands of pounds worth of stock which they simply cannot move due to excess supply in the market.
Know when to stop throwing money at a project that just isn’t going to work.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Compliance with good hand & surface Hygiene practices will be improved and adhered to if you make it convenient for the user, our motto has always been “within arms reach”
We look adapt and improve our desktop / surface mounted dispensers in order that our WIPEPOD becomes part of your office / school / working desk.
We look to continue to promote and develop our Biodegradable range.
Here's one for you that you won’t have seen before and we are once again we are the first - antibacterial wipes from a box, yes just as you get your milk and even wine in a box, why not Antibacterial wipes to try and replace the plastic bucket.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I love reading especially autobiographies but pretty much only on holiday, given the pandemic I haven’t traveled for 2 years.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
For most, we included, its time and effort and hard work - keep adding the FUEL (time & Effort) knock on doors - Online - Social media, exhibitions meet the buyer's events - but as the Dragons will so often tell you - know when to stop throwing money at a project that just isn’t going to work.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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