DESCRIBING herself as an agony aunt and a Jack of all trades, business centre manager Trudy Hind has been known to help out bosses of firms with anything from painting walls in their offices to ringing them to remind them of appointments when a client turns up unexpectedly.
“I’ve always had an idea of how I wanted this to run,” said Trudy, who manages Evans Business and Incubation Centre in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham. “It should be a place where people want to come to work.
“My job is to support the businesses when they come in and give them everything they need to enable them to get on with what they do best – running their businesses.
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“I’ve been known to help them with research, give them advice or even a shoulder to cry on, paint walls, fix things, ring them to let them know when one of their clients are in reception and they’re not in the building.
“I’m basically an agony aunt and Jack of all trades. I absolutely love my job.”
The centre, based on Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate, opened in 2005 and was originally managed by the now defunct regional development agency One NorthEast, with the aim of leasing space to businesses flexibly.
Although by its nature suited to start-ups, the centre also houses more mature firms and can rent firms anything from a hot desk to a 12-person office, and tenants can hire meeting rooms for larger functions.
“The advantage of being here is that we have all the services a business needs – including reception and kitchen facilities – and they don’t have the hassle of setting everything up as you would in an office not attached to a business centre.
“They can start with just a desk and move up or down with two months’ notice at any point. I think that is the very attractive thing to a lot of businesses – it is very flexible.”
Inspection and Engineering Services (IES), which has inspected work to ensure it meets legal standards on engineering projects including Heathrow’s Terminal Two and has won contracts with Seimens, has been one of the success stories which started life in Evans.
The firm, run by Trevor Forsyth and his business partner has seen turnover dramatically increase from £50,000 to between £150,000 and £250,000 a month since they rented an office two years.
“The flexibility has been a great advantage to us,” said Trevor. The centre also houses coffee firm Beanies the Flavour Co, which started life in the home of its founder, Mark Porteous three years ago, before he teamed up with partners John Evans and Andy Fenner and the trio hired flexible space from the centre, including a nearby workshop for production.
Since then, the firm has gone from strength to strength, recently exporting two £50,000 container loads of coffee to South Africa’s largest food retailer and securing a deal with one of the UK’s big four supermarket firms.
Companies in the centre have also found the network with the centre has helped them to drum up business.
SoHo IT, which is run by Jason Gurney, has ended up doing work for several other tenants in the centre.
“We try to introduce people who we think will help each other,” said Trudy. “It is like a business community in itself. People will quite often ask me if I know anyone who provides the service they are looking for. The network here certainly works.
“It’s another aspect which helps companies here get in and just get on with running their businesses.”