Recovering from the damage wrought by something like a flood or fire is a daunting and emotional prospect for any homeowner. One Welsh firm, TSG, has come up with innovative solutions for the insurance sector to support recovery work and help householders regain some normality while their beloved homes are repaired and renewed.
The company began life in 2012 and has since grown to a turnover of £4m, employing 48 people from its Deeside headquarters. TSG, owned by husband-and-wife team Emma and Stephen Trollope, has been supported through the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP).
The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Here, Emma Trollope gives a potted history of the company, explains the services it offers and explores the challenges and achievements of their business journey to date.
Tell us about TSG
It all began in 2012. One idea spawned another idea, and that idea became the successful business we are today.
We started out as the Temporary Kitchen Company (TKC) which was incorporated in 2012. TKC was the first organisation in the UK to be a supplier of alternative accommodation (AA), not just a facilitator.
Our website initially offered refurbished caravans. There was a customer in Edinburgh who wanted to book one due to an insurance claim for her kitchen. We realised there was an untapped market out there and it was perfect for insurance companies. We couldn’t offer refurbished caravans to the insurers and would have to build new ones on trailers.
When we began, it was tough. Nobody would lend us money, as we were a start-up with a completely new concept. It took a while to secure the money we needed, before NatWest was the first bank to offer us funding.
The next big step was to find the decision-makers in the insurance companies. We spent hours emailing and calling them. Eventually, Aviva were the first to give us a trial. Both of us had worked in sales and we always knew it would be successful, it was just a matter of getting the right message to the right people.
Since 2015, when we entered the insurance market, giving people the chance to keep living in their home after fire or flood damage, our business has continued to develop and grow. We now offer not only kitchens, but also temporary bathrooms and temporary storage.
In 2018 we achieved the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation and we’ve continued to develop and grow. The innovation at the core of our business is constantly driven by Stephen.
In 2019 the Temporary Solutions Group (TSG) was incorporated, becoming the parent company to the kitchens, bathrooms and storage businesses.
In 2020 we’d outgrown our premises and secured a second unit in Deeside to accommodate staff, car parking and manufacturing requirements. It’s been a remarkable period of growth for us.
The temporary accommodation units are built on site, which means we can cater for specific needs such as use by disabled people. It’s a much better solution than people having to live in hotel accommodation for extended periods.
We’re not simply a business intent on making profit; we’re a company with strong values at our core. The products we provide help people in so many ways and we’re very proud of that fact.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
I think that has to be the moment we won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Innovation in 2018.
There is a lot of paperwork to complete the application, and the advice is that it takes about 50 hours to complete. There was a tight deadline for the submission – so we were up against it!
Lots of companies pay someone to complete the application on their behalf but in our case it was down to me to get the submission right and on time.
That work all paid off. It felt so good to be recognised, the win felt hugely rewarding. It’s also a sign of quality - the people we’re dealing with know they can trust what we’re offering.
To top it all, meeting Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace was simply amazing.
What challenges have you faced in business?
Securing finance when we started the business was a massive challenge. COVID has given us something which we never expected to face, and we’ve had to factor in all kinds of new and different safety needs for our staff.
The drivers and installers have been able to carry on as they don’t need to go into people’s houses.
But factory staff have been provided with screens, PPE and hand sanitiser to ensure that they’ve been kept safe.
This is the kind of planning we’d never have envisaged would need to be done when we started out nearly 10 years ago!
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
We’d have been more careful about who we shared our idea with. One company, an alternative accommodation (AA) provider, told us it would never work – but they were the first competitor to join the market!
But all our mistakes have led us to where we are now. We both believe that mistakes are an essential part of growth and learning in business.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
We’ve had an enormous amount of help and support from Business Wales AGP.
The expertise that Business Wales AGP provides has been a real boost for us when we’ve needed advice as our business has grown and we’ve expand our markets.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
- If you absolutely believe in your idea don’t give up.
- Do as much research as you can.
- Believe in yourself – we had so many experts who wanted us to do things differently. We stuck to our beliefs and that was the right thing to do.
To learn more about TSG visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme