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The challenge of making a firm fit for the future

Taking over a business can be a daunting enough proposition, but what if it needs bringing up to date too? Here, one husband and wife team reveal how they gave their Member company a much-needed modernisation 


The T R Aitchison team outside their HQ

When Frank and Heather Rooney took over their electrical contracting business, one of their first priorities was to bring it into the 21st century.


Frank had worked at T R Aitchison for 22 years, so knew the business inside out – but as the new Managing Director, he also knew it needed bringing up to date, too.


The company had more than 60 years of experience, specialising in reactive and planned electrical maintenance work and electrical testing for domestic and commercial clients.


But while the technical side may have been strong, the couple knew they needed the rest of the business to be as good as the reputation it had built up over the decades.


Heather said: “When Frank and I took over the firm it was really outdated, from the showroom to the technology it used and even some of its services. 


“With so much to change, we knew it was too large a job to tackle ourselves, so we started looking for support to get the business into a better place and really future-proof it.”


A helping hand


Shortly after taking the reins in July 2023, Frank and Heather contacted Business Gateway for help in modernising the business. 


They met adviser Mark Wright, who provided one-to-one advice and business support, as well as introducing them to other experts and signposting them to information about employment law and apprentice support. 


After securing funding, Frank and Heather had two days of consultancy support from a marketing expert and five days of consultancy support from a procurement expert, who helped them secure contracts with key contacts in the housing maintenance sector.


As a result of the procurement support, T R Aitchison has been able to create a basic tender library to use for public sector work, which helped it secure a major contract. 


The marketing consultancy support allowed for a website review and update, with improved SEO and the appearance and functionality creating a better user experience to improve visibility and reputation. 

A social media review also gave the firm recommendations on ways to improve its presence on social media, as well as the quality of its output.


New strategy, new showroom


As well as a fresh strategy, the family-owned business now has a modern showroom and website and expanded its team in April with new electrician Steven Cunliffe arriving to help meet demand.


The new-look premises also have a mascot in the form of pet dog Zeus, who has become something of a celebrity in the local community as he keeps watch in the window. 


Heather said: “The support we’ve had from Business Gateway has been invaluable and has got us into a great place in a relatively short space of time. 


Frank with mascot Zeus

“I can honestly say that the business wouldn’t have survived without major updates, which is where Business Gateway came in.


“We are so grateful for Mark’s help and guidance and can’t thank the Business Gateway team enough for all the support they have given us. I would thoroughly recommend them to any other SELECT Member business who are looking for help and advice.”


Business Gateway adviser Mark said: “When Frank and Heather came to us for support, we were able to help them modernise the business and bring it into the 21st century. 



“It’s great to see how much the team has been able to help them since last July and we look forward to continuing to see them grow even further.” 


 

Vital support


Business Gateway offers a range of professional resources and tools. To find out how they could help your business, visit www.bgateway.com 


 

‘First class’ Ewan enjoys event success


T R Aitchison apprentice Ewan McGibbon recently reached the semi-finals of a national trade competition in recognition of his “first class” customer service. 


Apprentice Ewan McGibbon at work

The 20-year-old made it to the last 33 of the Screwfix Trade Apprentice 2024 contest, which had more than 1,800 entrants.


Frank said: “Ewan reached the semi-finals as he stands out because of his kind, patient and understanding nature. He really spends time with customers and explains what’s being done so that they feel comfortable.”


Ewan, who lives in Giffnock and studies at Glasgow Clyde College’s Cardonald campus, has been with the family firm for three years. He said: “An apprenticeship isn’t just about learning new skills, it’s helped me unlock a passion. I’m proud to have reached the semi-finals and I’m determined to have a successful career.”

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