Manufacturer powers through tough times
A CARAVAN accessories manufacturer is powering through the challenging times after relocating into a "next-generation" building.
Family firm D&J Leisure is proving there is still a vibrant market and opportunities in our region, after relocating into a new purpose-built hybrid building in Hull's Priory Park.
When the proposal of tax on static caravans came to light last year, East Yorkshire was hit hard.
With high tax threats and the potential for thousands of jobs being lost, the industry is undergoing a tough time. But amid these difficulties, D&J Leisure, which is approaching its 22nd birthday, is succeeding.
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The company, which has a small team of six people, designs and manufactures caravan accessories, such as steps and balconies, as well as bespoke furniture for businesses.
Owner Dave Linguard, who works alongside his son Rob and wife Lynda, said: "The caravan VAT hasn't affected our business.
"If people are not going to buy a new caravan, they will look at getting modifications, such as a balcony, and improving their existing model.
"But the market has been difficult because people are looking after their money more now and there is a lot of people out of work, so we have had to diversify into other areas too."
Despite winning business in the caravan industry, D&J decided that in order to keep its head above water, branching out into creating bespoke furniture and signs for firms in the region was a positive move to take.
The company also provides its caravan accessories for use in gardens.
Dave's son Rob said the family business has continued to grow its product range by simply building on the work it already does and the products it already manufactures.
He said: "We have used the same components, just modified what we have done."
D&J, which began life in a small farm outbuilding, before moving into a number of different rented properties across the city, is now leading the way in innovative designs and has launched a flat-pack modular decking product, so people can order the pack and assemble it themselves.
Dave said: "This is quite a unique idea in the industry. When a customer buys a furniture pack everything is there for them and we are helping to save a lot of money for people by allowing customers to make up the product themselves.
"We are also keeping up with the times."
The family said the business has recently upped the amount of work it is doing with its CNC machine for bespoke office furniture.
Rob said: "We have increased the amount of work we are doing with the CNC machine and we are doing very well with the balcony and flat-pack work.
"I think we have managed to stay afloat in the current economic climate due to change and development in the business page 3
and by having a positive outlook."
The firm, which started as a caravan repair company before deciding to focus on manufacturing products, said it has got some big projects coming up over the coming year.
It also said its continued success has enabled it to succeed in international markets, supplying products to companies in Europe such as Spain, France and Holland.
Dave said: "We just want to keep moving forward. We are hoping to do more work for people's gardens and in the domestic market. We think the move to this new building will help us achieve these goals."
The businessman said the company has invested a "fair amount" of money in the new eco-friendly next generation building – which is about 6,800sqft – and has worked closely with HSBC bank to ensure the relocation could go ahead. This move has sparked a significant step for the business, as it is the first time it has been able to buy a site, rather than just rent one.
Dave said: "Because it is a hybrid building, there are different materials used in it and there is a lot more insulation than there usually would be."
The new building also has special energy and cost-cutting radiators, as well as low-voltage lighting to significantly reduce the building's running costs.
In the factory, the heat generated from the machines provide the heating, meaning the firm doesn't need to use extra energy in this part of the unit.
Rob said: "This is the modern way. We need to step up to this, so moving here was a way of doing that."
Dave said: "There has been a lot of thought gone into this new development and we are really proud of the business.
"We have worked hard for what we have and in the future we may be able to take more staff. We'll see how things go."
D&J's unit was built by Pivotal Developments and the deal was overseen by commercial property agents Scotts Property.