Jack Sutcliffe & Simon Hobson
Power Sheds started with no loans, no venture capital, no angel investors, no crowdfunding… it was simply the money that Simon and I had managed to save up which was used to lease a 10,000 square foot manufacturing unit, the purchase of some second-hand machinery, and a website.
We had to be innovative
I am Jack Sutcliffe, co-founder of garden shed manufacturers, Power Sheds, launched in February 2019. I started this with Simon Hobson who I met at another garden shed manufacturing company. Simon has worked in the industry for 28 years from an installer to becoming responsible for all operations. I was there for 11 years responsible for all non-production.
The garden shed industry is a big, and yet surprisingly, unbranded market with online retailers all competing on price and promotions. For most companies, the lead time is around 6 weeks. Sheds are an awkward product to deliver and so companies send them on their own fleet. Our research showed us that shopping for a shed can be overwhelming with customers having to look through 100s of sheds and options and find it difficult to know which to choose.
We had to be innovative and wanted something simple to choose and quick to deliver. Taking inspiration from the mattress industry, where it was a challenge to deliver a mattress, one company brought out a ‘mattress in a box’. This enabled complete delivery flexibility and it transformed the industry. In a similar way, we have developed a modular ‘shed on a pallet’ – although the modular shed has been available online for many years, nobody had mastered making a whole range modular and flexible enough to be designed around a pallet in the way we have. We can therefore deliver any of our sheds using a national pallet delivery network to anywhere in the UK with next day delivery, or anywhere in Europe within a week. We are the first UK wooden shed manufacturer who can do this with the entire range.
Manufacturing a modularised producct
The sheds are manufactured as a modularised product, which is then delivered to the customer for building. The modular units allow for a very simple build process which is easy to understand, resilient, and also cost-competitive for the quality that customers actually get. The modularised product then allows the sheds to be assembled in many different variations – the doors and windows can be put on any side which the customer can choose as they are assembling it. We have 400 products but there are then 1000s more when you consider variations and configurations. This allows our sheds to suit any garden. And being modular, all of this is possible from the manufacture of just 50 components. This makes our process incredibly scalable as we grow… and this is very unique in the world of sheds.
Building a brand
1.5million sheds are bought each year in the UK alone. With the industry having no well-known brand.. I wanted the most powerful brand possible… ‘Power’. This brand is trademarked throughout Europe and is on Amazon’s brand registry. It is becoming a brand term well searched for and remembered.
The company was started with no loans, no venture capital, no angel investors, no crowdfunding… it was simply the money that Simon and I had managed to save up which was used to lease a 10,000 square foot manufacturing unit, the purchase of some second hand machinery, and a website.
We moved into an empty building in March 2019 and then in April we sold 15 sheds. In May we employed our first member of staff. Now, in June 2021 we are hitting 700 sheds a week with 85 employees.
Achievements over the past two years
• Are the highest-ranked garden shed company on Trustpilot in the world
• Sunday Times listed us at the top 3 start up companies to watch out for
• Real Homes awarded us as having the number 1 best shed in the UK
• Top 100 Exciting Yorkshire Companies from Business Insider
• Winner eBay for Business Awards for Innovation 2020
• Winner of ‘Best New Business’ at the Lloyds National Business Awards 2020
• Winner of ‘Disrupter of the Year’ for the 2020 Great British Entrepreneur Awards (North East)
• Finalist for Best New Business at the 2020 SME National Business Awards
Power Sheds is a company which is disrupting and changing an industry… and we’re only just getting started.
Work incredibly hard – use weekends and evenings to make your business work. Most of my work is done on an evening and I wouldn’t have got to where I did without putting in the hours.
Put customers and employees before short term profit – always do what you can to make these key stakeholders happy. Don’t cut corners and costs at the expense of leaving customers with a positive experience.
Enjoy the process – find a way to like what you are doing or choose a business you know you will love. This means enjoying the challenge of difficult days where things go wrong (as there will be many). If you want to run a business you need to know you’re not going to get too down in the lows or it can get too much for people.
Be honest – be open and honest with customers and employees. Don’t try to trick anyone as if you are not genuine or authentic, people will see right through it.
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