North East Connected

Ian engineers himself a new career path

A former SSI engineer has launched a new business in Sunderland with the help of the North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC).

Following a 30 year career in the steel industry, Ian Baillie has taken his occupation in a whole new direction completing garden overhauls, maintenance and small domestic repairs.

After being made redundant from the Redcar plant last year and consequently facing unemployment, Ian launched Maintenance Magic in February with the support of the SSI Task Force Business Advice Start Up Fund.

The SSI Task Force Business Advice Start Up Fund offers former SSI workers advice on starting their own business, plus a grant scheme that can provide start-up assistance of up to £10,000.


Ian was referred to the BIC, one of the partners delivering support on behalf of the Business Advice Start Up Fund. He was assigned business adviser Margaret Cook who helped him put his ideas on paper and create a business plan. Ian explains:

“I have always been a keen gardener and enjoy being outdoors. I love the flexibility self-employment allows me and the fact I make all of my own decisions. In time I would like to add to the services I offer such as lawn care services and spraying.”

Ian was also successful in his application for the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) scheme, a national Government initiative which aims to help those in receipt of benefits to start a new business. He adds:

“Margaret was brilliant.  She simplified the process and ensured my plan met the standards to apply for the NEA.  A business plan is key for a business just starting out. I would recommend anyone starting a business to visit the BIC.”

Amanda Skelton, chair of the SSI Task Force and chief executive of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council said: “I would like to wish Ian the very best of luck with his new venture. Around 150 new businesses have been started so far and the message I want to get across to former SSI workers and those in the supply chain is that the funding is still there to help you. I have seen some really innovative ideas turned into successful businesses, which is great news.”

BIC business support manager Shirley Hermiston added:

“Being faced with redundancy is a difficult time for all involved and many take the opportunity to follow their dreams and start a business.

“I am delighted that Ian has overcome such a challenging time and has found self-employment as a means to do what he enjoys. I would like to wish him the very best with his venture.

“Whatever your reasons are for starting a business our business advisers are here to help.”

The BIC offers free one to one expert advice to help get your business off the ground. Contact 0191 516 6149 to arrange an appointment.

For information on Maintenance Magic contact

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