One year on: reflecting on our first year in our head office
After a year of set-backs for some, our Managing Director, Jennifer, celebrates our successes on the first anniversary of our offices and chemistry building.
March 15, 2021
By Jennifer Newton
A year after the pandemic hit the UK, stories are popping up everywhere to mark the anniversary that our normal lives changed. Of course, the pandemic has affected us, but we mark the 15th March 2021 for a positive reason. It is now a year since we moved into our new head offices and custom-built chemistry lab at Unit 5 Mill road Industrial Estate.
In November 2019, it became apparent the unit we were operating out of at 42 Mill Road Industrial Estate was not fit for our growth aspirations. Space was getting tight in the offices as well as the chemistry lab. Will and I were pondering what to do to find more space when serendipity struck and a building which had lay empty for over eight years had a new “for rent” sign up. We acted fast over the Christmas holidays getting in touch with the estate agents and getting access to see inside.
What we found was plenty of usable space, but a lot of work was going to be required to get the building back into tip top shape. The clincher on whether this new building would work, was if we could get a direct line of communication with the micro lab 200 meters away. It just so happened this single-story building had a “folly tower”, basically a two story tower with nothing in it, but a proud place to display a sign. This tower was high enough for us to get the line of site and a seamless communication link which allows both buildings to work in real time with each other.
After frantic negotiations with the owners, we gained entry on the 31st January 2020 and hit the ground running, replacing flooring, carpeting and lights. We laid new drainage and repaired broken ones. We altered the office layout and added two more rooms. We installed new boilers and instated benchwork and tons of electrical points for the chemistry lab. We even had to replace the cat cabling to bring the infrastructure up to current standards.
Our contractors worked tirelessly, as did Will answering the endless questions on where, how and when things needed doing. Then on the 15th March we moved in – no time to spare before the country went into lockdown. Had we delayed even a day, the outcome would have been very different; caught between an unfinished building and an unsuitable one (with no lease). Luck was certainly on our side. If we had not moved when we did, working under the Covid regulations would have been very different with social distancing near impossible to maintain.
So, a year on instead of having to decrease our activities we have managed to expand our services with new accredited methods in the chemistry lab, increase the number of technical and customer services personnel and a brand-new Communications Manager to boot. As the offices and the chemistry lab grew so did the micro lab, and we had to rent more warehouse space and a dedicated workshop for our maintenance department. We are now investigating the possibility to move our media production lab to the Unit 5 site (which has loads of surrounding land) to accommodate their continued growth in animal by-product, CSPO (Control of Salmonella Order), food and water testing. Looking back over the year I am proud of what we have accomplished during what can only be described as dark times. As the world returns to normal, I see us attaining even more lofty goals based on the evidence of what we accomplished last year.