A Durham business that was hard hit by the economic downturn during early 2009, still managed to stay in profit and secured a major public contract, after investing in its workforce and targeting new markets with the help of Business Link.

Reprotec, an established business with over 20 years experience as a specialist contracting company in resin flooring, which also provides a range of surface protection services, maintained a small profit during 2009 despite seeing a significant reduction in turnover.

Profitability and sales growth have continued to increase in 2010, and earlier this year Reprotec secured a major contract worth £250K with the new police headquarters in Wallsend, which has helped maintain business growth with an increase in both turnover and staff levels.

In early 2009 the company which operates nationally from its Langley Moor base was experiencing the impact of the downturn like many other businesses within the region’s construction sector. Keen to turn things around and remain competitive, Reprotec MD John Holmes decided to investigate what support was available to help the business get back on track.

John commented: “We realised there was a need for intervention to look closely at how we were operating as a business, how we could improve our management structures, effectively target new markets and nurture our key accounts. I was aware of the support available to help review the business and take us to the next level so contacted Business Link to help progress our plans. It also became apparent that we needed to make the most of engaging with our Trade Association – FeRFA.”

Since being introduced to Business Link adviser Sandra Hobson-Tate last March, Reprotec has benefitted from advice and guidance across a number of areas. The company has funding via the North East England Investment Centre (NEEIC), to help fund consultancy towards developing a specialist marketing plan and strategy and Sandra was instrumental in identifying and securing the funds.

Additional support included advising on suitable networking opportunities and workshops and events, and providing access to a wealth of information and contacts.

Skills development has also played a key role in the company’s turnaround and among other areas Business Link skills adviser Carole Earl has been able to recommend training in SAGE financial software to provide greater financial control and efficiency within the business. She was also able to signpost the company towards the Leadership and Management Programme and also recommended that the business sign up to the Skills Pledge.

Reprotec, which has extensive expertise within the resin flooring, screeding and surface protection industry, now employs 13 staff and is looking to expand in the future with the addition of staff and new products.

Reprotec managing director John Holmes said:“Business Link has been very supportive during the last eighteen months providing some excellent guidance, advice and access to funding. Sandra Hobson-Tate and Carole Earl have both been excellent, and having access to this expertise has really helped us to turn things around and see the business go for growth.”

Business Link’s Sandra Hobson-Tate, said: “It has been a real pleasure to work alongside John and his team at Reprotec. Throughout the economic downturn, Business Link has worked in partnership with the company to ensure they had access to all of the available business support resources to help them remain competitive.

Reprotec has seized every opportunity and embraced the Business Link service and the wider support network to help them through the downturn – which has been much to their benefit. I look forward to supporting Reprotec’s growth plans and I feel honoured to have been involved with the Reprotec team.”

Business Link has a team of expert advisers who offer advice, help and information to individuals and companies across the region, giving them access to the ‘business brains’ who will help to get their business idea off the ground, or grow their existing company. For further information about Business Link visit www.businesslink.gov.uk/northeast or call 0845 600 9 006.