Supply chain is essential link in county’s economic development

A number of companies that supply goods and services to Arch Developments and its housebuilding arm, Ascent Homes, are really helping to boost Northumberland’s local economy by investing in their companies and creating new jobs.

Investing to make Northumberland a great place to live, work and visit, lies at the heart of Arch’s economic development strategy and the organisation is committed to ‘buying local’ whenever possible.

One company, HT Facilities, had only been in existence for three months when managing director, Sue Dunn, contacted Ascent Homes directly to ask if she could tender for work.  

After tendering for the Plessey Green site in Blyth, she was awarded the contract to provide the ‘initial builder’ and ‘final sparkle’ clean on this one development and now works extensively for Ascent Homes across all its housing developments, ensuring that each house is perfect for residents to move into.

Sue has doubled her workforce to four and has plans to recruit a further member of staff within the next few months as she expands her business across the county.

Another company which has seen strong growth also received early support from Ascent Homes when only nine months old. Trench Networks provides Wi-Fi to Ascent Homes’ construction sites from the day that site cabins are installed.  This means that site staff and visitors to the site can benefit from secure, fast and reliable Wi-Fi from the outset and the business has really taken off, as Claire Hollyman, director, explains:

“As developers of a system rather than re-sellers, we are always working to enhance what we do and are currently making improvements that bring faster speeds and new features.  We are developing our product for new markets too including ‘disaster recovery’ situations and the provision of connectivity for offices with issues around getting lines installed quickly.

“As a result of our success, we have outgrown our original offices and are now moving into bigger offices at Blyth Workspace, which is one of Arch’s commercial office space developments. We are also looking to take on two new staff in the very near future.”

Another two companies which had both been established for much longer when they first began supplying services to Ascent Homes, have also received a boost to their businesses.
MK Electrics, now 14 years old, is currently working on electrical installations for Ascent Homes’ housing developments at The Maltings in Alnwick and Wayside Point at Ellington as well as a number of schemes for other customers. The firm has been working alongside Arch for five years and working with Ascent Homes for the last two years.  

MK Electrics has seen significant growth, expanding from two electricians and two apprentices to two directors, nine electricians and a receptionist and there are plans to expand the business by moving to larger premises and continuing to employ local labour.

In the case of Q Interiors, which is 22 years old and had downsized during the recession, directors felt confident to re-invest in hiring new staff because of its new workload from Ascent Homes.

With responsibility for all aspects of show home design, including supply and fit out, sales office furniture, lighting and wall coverings, the interiors specialist is currently engaged on its biggest contract yet for Ascent Homes – the creation of three showrooms at Ascent Homes’ Wayside Point development at Ellington, but as director, Julie Watson explains, a host of other clients including golf clubs, property owners and other housing developers are also keeping the company busy.  She says:

“Since we started working for Ascent Homes we have secured employment for five people, but this is not the whole story – we also work with sub-contractors who, whilst not employed directly by our company, have benefited from our work with Ascent Homes along with a raft of other Northumberland-based clients, so we are indirectly sustaining other employment opportunities too.

“We are committed to investing further in the business both in the North East and beyond.  So far this year, we have recruited a business development director and are currently looking for an additional full time designer to support our growth strategy. All aspects of our business are growing and we are looking at new areas of business that complement our existing portfolio.”

Claire Scott, head of sales and marketing for Ascent Homes, is passionate about employing local companies whenever possible.  She says: 

“Not only is Ascent Homes providing a wealth of much needed, high quality new housing in the county, we are also helping to generate new jobs whilst boosting the local economy, so everyone benefits.  Arch also regularly holds ‘Meet the Buyer’ events in a bid to use local contractors to carry out work on its other development schemes, so together, we are making a big contribution to the county and to the lives of local people, who are at the heart of everything we do.”

Andy Hutchinson