The Selby District has seen a network of dynamic and innovative small businesses develop which now form a vital part of the area’s economic success.
Companies which started out, in many cases, as people’s dreams have thrived to provide a rich and colourful mix of small businesses, offering unique products and services directly to retail customers and other clients in the commercial world.
However strong the ideas behind fledgling businesses may be and however ambitious those setting out to make them a success, the road ahead can be difficult to negotiate.
That is acknowledged by Selby District Council and it is the reason it has in place support for guiding and supporting small businesses to help them start and grow, working closely with the York and North Yorkshire and Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnerships.
Assistance comes in many forms, to ensure businesses are set up correctly from the start. Mentoring, funding, workshops, networking and signposting to alternative support where appropriate are some of the ways in which the council offer support. Skills training is also vital to ensure businesses stay ahead of the game.
While Selby District Council is actively working to bring more major employers into the district, by redeveloping unused ‘brownfield’ sites as ultra-modern business parks, Business Advisors also remain focused on ensuring smaller firms get the help they need to thrive.
Here are six examples of firms which add to the Selby District’s economy, providing extra choice for customers, but they are by no means the only ones.
He may have been a home cook, but when Craig Barton’s family and friends started declaring his indulgent brownies were good enough to sell, he sensed an opportunity.
With business partner Matt Stead, who provided self-declared “more hands on deck” to help with weighing out and washing up, the business flourished.
But a commercial confectionery needs a bake-house and Cray Bakes, the name given to the company, found themselves in the bake-house which gave the firm the opportunity it needed to expand.
Selby District Council helped with that process, and more, giving business advice which helped to propel the business upwards.
Craig and Matt now have several more people on their workforce ‘Team Cray Bakes’, and are full of praise for the support council experts provided.
However, even they acknowledge the council is not solely responsible for their success – Selby’s geographical location, with both its own thriving business network and easy access to cities and metropolitan areas means there is a local and extensive marketplace for their output.
Craig said: “We specialise in artisan, hand-made, baked products and indulgent treats.
“Doing business with Selby District Council is great, the local business network is really supportive, there are events going on and there is great access to major cities.
“We love it, being in control of our own destiny.”
Andrea Hall, visual artist
Artists’ skills may generally be more focused on creativity than the practicalities of succeeding in the commercial world, but Andrea Hall is proof that in Selby that doesn’t have to be a handicap.
She is a visual artist who’s undoubted abilities have been recognised by both the buying public and Selby District Council’s business specialists who have helped her turn a personal interest into a career.
Andrea is a keen outdoor swimmer, preferring natural outdoor waters for her hobby to formal swimming pools and that has inevitably put her close to the environment.
With an ability to record that experience through paint, she began to attract a following of enthusiasts, and sometimes customers, through social media.
But it was expert mentoring from a specialist at the council which helped her transform that interest into a successful business.
She said: “I felt compelled to record the environment I was swimming in. I started selling one or two pieces, one thing led to another and it just took over.
“I love being based in Selby, it is such a rural environment to be in, but there are towns and all the facilities.
ARC Workwear and PPE Ltd
Many great businesses have grown to substantial status from humble beginnings in spare bedrooms and garages.
So it is with ARC Workwear, a firm which started life in the dining room at Rebecca and Anthony Chapman’s home but became unmanageable at a domestic home as the order book grew.
Far from being a problem, it became a springboard to develop the company with assistance from Selby District Council and their business development specialists.
ARC Workwear was able to move into a specialist starter unit at Sherburn in Elmet and that move also triggered support from council staff to help Rebecca and Anthony expand their customer base and take on apprentices and buying their own business unit to grow the business. Better still, they are hopeful their Sherburn location will pay dividends in future as council plans to draw more big employers into new business parks, offering opportunities to secure new and local customers.
ARC specialises in printing and embroidering workwear with company logos, along with supplying safety wear and personal protective equipment to help keep employees safe.
Rebecca said: “The council sent business mentors and such like, to help us and get us thinking out of the box, which helped us to grow.
“Now, every day we come in to something different to do, different challenges about how we are going to grow the business.”
Anthony said: “In the beginning, we had help from Selby by way of grants and how to get apprentices.
“With exposure to bigger businesses coming into the area, it will really help us continue our growth,” he said
Hygieia Group Ltd
Cleaning companies may be the unsung heroes of the commercial world, an industry which may lack glamour but provides vital services to all sectors.
Andrew Bodle’s father made sure he would learn everything about the industry when he joined Hygieia, the family firm, back in the 1970s, as a 16 year old.
Andrew’s first job was cleaning toilets before moving on to other challenges and eventually taking over the company, which now supplies a vast range of cleaning equipment as well as physical cleaning services.
One of the things Andrew has learned over the years is that he has no desire to re-locate from Selby and the District Council played a part in that decision.
They offer a range of incentives for small businesses and start-ups and, as Andrew has looked to develop Hygieia, their assistance has been invaluable.
But more recently Hygieia was referred to a support programme and was able to benefit from ‘match funding’ where money the company has been able to invest in the company’s growth has been doubled.
That is being used for video publicity work to help increase the company’s exposure to prospective customers.
Although Hygieia is a long-established company, it still benefits from the opportunities which have become part of the fabric of the business world in the area.
“The council has provided us with various means of support, open forums to attend, social events and networking events, which all allow us to meet other people,” Andrew said.
“We were very fortunate to get some match funding which has enabled us to invest. We need to expand and the match funding will hopefully help enable us to do that.”
The Maltings at Digby’s
Even in the 21st Century, flying still captures the imagination for many people so it is hardly surprising that The Maltings at Digby’s, the restaurant and bar at Sherburn Aero Club, has proved a success.
With panoramic views over the airfield, it provides an interesting and unusual location for those both using the club’s facilities and those just wanting a high quality meal with an interesting backdrop.
Part of The Maltings Tea Room business at South Milford, Digby’s is operated by Lesley and Stuart Kelly, who have found the business brings job satisfaction for them and customer satisfaction among visitors.
The club has its own customer base, with members and those flying in among their visitors, but Digby’s is also open to the public and to businesses wanting to use their function room.
That is suitable for business meetings and, again, provides an eye-catching venue for important meetings.
Lesley said: “You don’t realise how accessible learning to fly is until you come here. The pilots will be more than happy to take children to the planes and take them around the planes, show them the hangers, it is a lovely friendly place.”
Part of the Digby’s ethos is supporting other local businesses, to form part of a wider community.
They now have their own bespoke blend of coffee, which has proved popular with customers, which was created with a coffee roasting company in the area, which now supplies their needs.
“We keep it local, where possible,” said Stuart.
“The satisfaction of it is that, if you produce something nice, people enjoy it and enjoy where they are. That keeps you going and motivates you.”
In an era where the environment and recycling are in focus like never before, Sherburn-in-Elmet’s Nu Cuts ticks many sustainability boxes.
The business model is refreshingly simple, to take other firms’ waste wood products and find ways to either remanufacture or re-use materials which would otherwise have ended up in landfill.
The advantages for the planet are obvious and the company is thriving, with expansion plans on the agenda.
But even the most environmentally conscious companies have to start somewhere and Nu Cuts was assisted with both the purchase of its first machine and locating suitable premises, at Sherburn-in-Elmet, by Selby District Council.
The company was set up by Terry Thorpe, Arron Moss and Hannah Moss, taking in waste chipboard and MDF boards and off-cuts from other companies. They use their machinery and expertise to create fresh parts for new products by cutting new smaller components from the boards and off-cuts.
Their approach has proved successful and, with the company well established, they are now looking to expand further by investing in more machinery and are hoping the council may be able to assist with grants for that development.
Terry said: “We feel proud of the job we do. The solution we provide is to take someone else’s waste and turn it into something good.
“From a sustainability point of view we feel we are doing something very good and we are proud of that.”
One of their customers is a local firm which is now taking weekly deliveries, helping to both keep the local economy thriving and ticking another sustainability box by keeping delivery distances short.
Director of Economic Regeneration & Place at Selby District Council Dave Caulfield said: “The Selby district offers a number of fantastic locations for businesses, partly because of its transport links but also because of its keen and committed workforce.
“We are working hard to build on that by opening up new opportunities for larger companies looking to relocate or expand.
“But we also know the value of Selby district’s smaller firms and have been doing everything we can to support them, which is something we will continue to do. We are proud of what they bring to the area, creating new jobs and supporting the economy, of course, but they do far more than that.
“Small businesses add richness and depth to the community, improving the quality of life and often offer unique or unusual services, which help make the area feel so special.
“The examples we have may be ‘six successes’ but there are many more.
As the Selby district expands, we expect more big companies to move in and that will create even more opportunities for smaller businesses to grow and for those with the ideas and ambitions to start new firms.”