Harlow business owner wants others to share his vision to make an impact in the local community
Last week we caught up with Eco Efficient Home Solutions (EEH Solutions) at the Enterprise Hub on Edinburgh Way, Harlow. Founder, shared his belief that:
“Sometimes, as business leaders, we get too focused on one thing – profits or shareholders and stakeholders. We lose focus on the people and the things that matter – the community we live in.”
Why did you start EEH Solutions?
I left my role in the profit-driven financial services sector because I couldn’t see how I could make an impact in society. I wanted to create a business that makes a difference. During lockdown lots of my friends and family were out of work. They were multi-skilled tradespeople – a great resource. One day it just came to me that this resource was a great opportunity and that I could do something to help them.
My plan was to go into the energy sector. It was driven by new schemes that became available during the pandemic like the Green Homes Grant scheme which provides financial help towards installing energy efficient improvements in homes. And that’s how our journey began.
I started the business in 2020, so we’ve been trading for about a year and a half. Our core business is retrofitting Eco Efficient Home Solutions such as external wall insulation. We’re very specific in what we do. We work in the private and public sector.
I started the business with a team of three, but we’ve been growing rapidly. Our whole supply chain network is now about 120 people. And we are still looking for more – in the last three weeks we’ve interviewed 18 people.
It’s been crazy. I’m extremely busy. I currently do around 80 hours a week! I’m also juggling my family life because we’ve just had a new baby.
What is driving your high level of recruitment?
Recently we bid for four tender contracts and won all four! They are essentially the same contract but covering four different areas: Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridge. We were not expecting to win all four so now we are in a very good position but need to urgently recruit skilled tradespeople.
How important is it for you to recruit locally?
Very important. We want to help the community. The vision behind the business is not profit driven, we are community driven. There is so much common sense in investing within the community to help the prosperity of the community.
I always try to find talent in Harlow. We work closely with Harlow job centre and we’ve taken on Kickstarters and Apprentices. We have an office team and a site team. 90% of our office team live in Harlow. We are also talking to colleges to help up-skill young people and for them to understand that that a career as a tradesperson can be lucrative because there is a national shortage of good skilled labour.
Tell us more about your company values
Sometimes, as business leaders, we get too focused on one thing – profits or shareholders and stakeholders. We lose focus on the people and the things that matter – the community we live in.
At work I try to make an environment where everyone feels like we are a community, not just colleagues. I encourage training and education as that’s key to growing. Yesterday we had 14 tradespeople here just for some training and we’ve had more this morning. We’re continuing that development.
We are recruiting people who are maybe unhappy in their current roles. I want them to feel they are coming somewhere that’s different with a different vision. I want everyone to feel like they’re being empowered. A lot of the guys here haven’t been given any opportunities. All were out of work for nearly two years. But I saw something in every one of them and I want to upskill them too.
I want to give back to the community. We are working with local charities like Phoenix and the Woodland Trust plus some local community clubs. We’re currently writing a pledge that for every new install we do, money will be put back into the community.
Why did you choose Harlow?
I saw Harlow as a family town. We heard good things from other family members who had visited. People spoke of Harlow in a positive way with good amenities like the hospital, leisure facilities and shopping. Retail on Edinburgh way has got pretty much everything you need! And then there’s the location. It’s a real benefit being close to Stansted, the M25 and M11.
We’ve been here three years now and love it. We’ve made a lot of friends and are members of various groups within the community.
Why is it important to focus locally?
I want to see Harlow prosper. I want to see it change. And I want Harlow to benefit from opportunities like the large-scale construction projects that are happening here including Gilston Garden Community, the UK Health Security Agency and the new Princess Alexandra Hospital.
If local businesses in Harlow can take advantage of this incoming investment, I could see Harlow becoming an affluent town.
How can small businesses take advantage of the investments coming to Harlow?
It needs to be a group effort from businesspeople within the industry. It’s not something that EEH Solutions can solely do. If we are going to benefit from the investment coming into Harlow, everyone needs to try. And I want to make sure that we’re playing our role. We want to be part of that.
How can Harlow SMEs work together to take advantage of these new business projects coming to Harlow?
I think there needs to be some sort of association of local businesses where they all work together openly. That could really work for us. We’ve been talking to local businesses and taking advantage of networking opportunities where we can. We want to find other forward thinking business owners. Sadly, I think there’s a bit of a preconceived negativity around working together.
We are happy to help others and share knowledge – we now have an in-house bidder so that’s something that may be of interest to other SMEs, and we can share how we recently won 4 two-year extendable public sector contacts.
If we can connect SMEs in the correct way think of all the benefits that could come to Harlow! It would have such detrimental effect on Harlow if we don’t do it because I don’t think this sort of investment will happen again for a long time. These kinds of projects are a once in lifetime thing. There are a lot of businesses that need to wake up and see what’s coming.
Any final comments?
We want to change Harlow in a positive way. It would be a great injustice if it doesn’t happen.
I heard that for every £1 earnt locally, it’s spent up to 3 times in the area. Even if only 5% of that gets re-invested into Harlow – it’s going to have a big impact.