Phone rang last week, it was an old customer from nine or so years ago, asking me what he'd need to re-coat the roof on his garden office.
We used to do torch-on felt roofs for our garden studios ‘til recently, (we now use single piece rubber E.P.D.M.) which needed re-coating every five years or so with an anti u/v protective "Solacote" to keep the ultra-violet sunlight from damaging the felt) so I told him what and where to get it, but that we could do it for him for what he would pay just for the solar reflecting paint. We used to buy so much of it, we got it cheaper and we still have some. We also pass Hemel Hempstead often, even when we’re not actually working there.
He was delighted that I remembered him at all, and even more so when I offered that! Plus he wanted some other advice too, so I said I would drop in first. Besides I was curious and he was a nice man so it would be good to see him again.
So I called in yesterday and whilst there, I took the opportunity to look at his roof of course. I was half expecting to see the felt had begun to perish but no, it had dulled but was all still good.
Anyway, it was nice to take a look at a building I’d actually installed myself with just one man to help me. That really was the early days and here the ‘old girl’ was, still providing good service after her first decade with many more still to go. He then came out with what must remain as one of the best testimonials I could ever have.
He said, “Do you know what Dave? I can honestly say, and it may sound a bit strong, but I can honestly say, that this building you provided for me, this ‘extra room’ from nearly 10 years ago, has proved to be the best purchase I have made in my entire life?"
Well I was gobsmacked. What a compliment!
He went on, "I have used it daily since it was installed, so much that the finish on the laminate floor wore off so I have replaced that.”
Who can get a better testimonial than that, and after ten years, entirely spontaneously, from the heart?
So first of all thank you so much Norman from King's Llangley near Hemel, bless you for your kind words! The least I can do is treat you (and the roof) to some "Solacote", applied for free by one of my now many trusty workers, (so different from ten years ago!) as a thank you for your kind words, which filled me with pride. One of them will drop by shortly.
So this is all very well, but for potential new customers reading this, what will you experience now compared to 10 years ago?
Well I am still here, and until November when I at long last get an assistant in the office, the person answering the phone will always be me. The chap who started this business will be the one to answer your call, the one that has designed each of the last more than 400 unique buildings, produced over the last 10 years.
If I had taken a different "Let’s standardise designs and mass-produce attitude, or even a "Let’s import cheaply from from abroad and modify, or “Buy cheap S.I.P.S. panels and do modular mass construction”, then we might have made a lot more money, but we would have lost a lot of flexibility.
That is no good for an idealist like myself, fixated on the best he can get produced, the most versatile building, that suits the customer and the garden, the most innovative, the most fit-for-purpose he can devise for every site and customer.
So the mass-produced, standard-with-a-tweak-here-and-there, is not the direction we have gone. We are about a standard price, plus or minus the odd curved-ball a customer might bowl us, even then we try not to add too much to the price.
So ten years on, we have fine-tuned everything (don’t get me wrong, we’re always looking to see if we can improve!). Even though it seems we’ve got the ideal formula for a modern quality build, it was so heart-warming to come across one of our oldest buildings, a garden studio built using the old techniques and materials, but still giving good service and set to last a good few decades yet!