BCRS & Sandwell Council Team Up for Business Growth

Black Country Reinvestment Society (BCRS) the Wolverhampton based not for profit loans company, together with Sandwell Council has helped a West Bromwich facilities management and building contractor grow their business.

The 1st Site Group, based in Queens Court Trading Estate on Greets Green, construct and refurbish educational establishments and local authority owned buildings in the region. Managing director Neil Matthews set up the company in 2005 with father Ken Matthews, and now employs between 10 and 14 staff on a contract basis.

BCRS has loaned the company finance to create new jobs and secure existing positions through the Sandwell Business Loan Fund. The fund is a £750,000 pot available over the next two years and loans of £10k and £50k are available to local viable businesses that are experiencing difficulty accessing funds in the current credit crisis. The fund is managed by Black Country Reinvestment Society.

Neil Matthews, managing director of 1st Site Group said, “Thanks to the BCRS and Sandwell funding, we have been able to safeguard five jobs, and we are looking to expand and take on a contracts manager and several new employees.

“We use our headquarters as a showcase for our skills in building, joinery, plumbing and electrical services. The factory unit is fitted with a full kitchen, cloakroom, entrance room and staircase with an enclosed mezzanine containing a projects office. What was an empty and featureless unit now demonstrates what we can offer to our clients, together with advice on everything from layout to finishes – getting the fundamentals right is of prime importance to us.

“I started as an apprentice bricklayer and have worked my way up through the trades, so I understand that a sound foundation and high quality is at the basis of everything. It’s crucial to have the ability to diversify when the going gets tough – my father was a glass cutter at Stuart Crystal for most of his working life until he was made redundant when the factory closed, and he has joined me in the business as director.”

 Tony Wood, business development manager at BCRS, said:

 “Since the launch of Sandwell Business Loan Fund in November 2009, £160k has been loaned to seven companies in Sandwell. This has resulted in 25 jobs being safeguarded and the creation of ten new jobs. The 1st Site Group was the first company to be approved under the scheme and we’re delighted to be helping them. I would encourage other businesses in Sandwell to get in touch with BCRS to find out how the scheme could help them.

“Neil has demonstrated great tenacity in building this business and he possesses the hands-on skills necessary to take it forward. 1st Site is the kind of company we like to lend to. Neil is dedicated to bringing out the best in his workforce and the funding will be used to grow the business and increase staff and skills, the product of which will be used to improve the build quality of homes, schools and colleges in the area. It’s a great fit with us.”

Councillor Ann Shackleton, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Employment, Skills and Partnerships, said:

 “1st Site is responding to a need in Sandwell. It understands the market and responds to customer surveys to improve what it offers. That is fundamental to any business, to know that your product is tried, tested and will sell well. I think this company will go from strength to strength. We’re very pleased to be able to help Sandwell businesses that demonstrate a strong business case during these difficult times.”

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