TAMWORTH-based Mr Electric is celebrating double success after winning a top award just days after the business moved to bigger premises to cope with increasing growth and demand.
The franchise, owned by Tamworth man Jeff Longley, has just been crowned Best Medium Established Business at the region’s Business Networking Awards held at Drayton Manor Park.
Mr Electric beat tough competition from Roasters, InLife Design, Prizm Solutions and Brookes Stephens to take home the title, as well as being shortlisted in the Trades Business of the Year and Entrepreneur of the Year categories.
The award marks a successful time for Mr Electric as the business has just moved from a 650 sq ft unit to much bigger 2,400 sq ft offices on Lichfield Road Industrial Estate, providing more room for its 30 employees and the additional members of staff which will be taken on in the coming months.
Jeff (62) said: “We were very pleased to win the award for Best Established Medium Business, especially as we were up against some tough competition. It’s also testament to the amount of work that has gone into growing the franchise from a small business with just two members of staff, to a medium enterprise with a turnover in excess of £1million.
“The timing is also very apt with the move to new premises as we prepare for further growth.”
Mr Electric is the third enterprise that Jeff has turned into a £1million turnover business – but it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Having left school at 15 with no qualifications, Jeff took a job as a milkman and then in a factory before being made redundant. With a wife and five children to feed, he knew something had to change.
So when his family came into a £20,000 inheritance, Jeff invested £12,000 in his first franchise, Highway Glass, in the virgin territory of Tamworth – despite knowing nothing about running a company.
Ten years later, Jeff sold Highway Glass for £450,000 and bought fire and flood restoration franchise, Rainbow International.
It was when his son Luke qualified as an electrician that the Mr Electric opportunity presented itself.
“Luke qualified in 2008, just at the start of the recession, and as a newly qualified electrician there just wasn’t any work for him. I knew the previous owner of Mr Electric and asked him if he could give Luke a job but he said he was thinking of selling,” Jeff explained.
So Jeff put his hand in his pocket and bought the business. He took on the company’s two existing employees, who are still with the firm today, and initially ran the operation from a small office alongside Rainbow International.
In 2010 he sold the Rainbow franchise to focus on Mr Electric and hasn’t looked back since.
“We got some initial work for Home Serve, doing 25 small domestic jobs a week. But as others around us lost their contracts, we won the work because of our high level of customer service. We are now doing more than 1,000 jobs a month for Home Serve and in excess of 1,300 overall, including large contracts with big companies, schools and McDonald’s restaurants.”
Although it hasn’t always been easy, Jeff and his two sons Luke and Dominic are happy with where the company is now and are making plans for Jeff to take more of a back seat as he hands the reins over to the next generation.
“It hasn’t been an easy growth; it’s been tough, slow progress, but we are really going places now,” Jeff said. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without help from Government schemes such as Growth Accelerator, leadership and management programmes and the great200leaders initiative.
“I also work with a leadership coach. I grew my previous franchises to £1million turnover but didn’t have the skills to take them any further so I sought help where it was needed to develop my skills.”
Although Jeff is preparing to take more of a back seat, he will still be involved in steering the ship to bigger and better things.
“We are not stopping here. We are moving more into the commercial arena and taking on bigger contracts all the time as our reputation for great customer service and attention to detail grows.”
Despite such success during his career, Jeff says he is not motivated by money.
“I left school with no qualifications and no skills and I wanted to be able to hold my head up high and say I have achieved despite this. It hasn’t been a quest for money. I would rather have people see us as a fantastic company with a great ethos.
“If you look after everything, you will build a sustainable business, but if you’re just chasing the money you’re not likely to survive the long term,” he added.