A former SSI sub-contractor has launched his own business, creating jobs for redundant steel plant workers, with support from SSI Task Force funding.
Dan Wilcox, 53, from Berwick Hills, Middlesbrough, has set up Cleveland LGV Training Ltd, based at the town’s Skippers Lane Industrial Estate.
Tapping into two strands of Task Force funding, Dan was able to register the company within a month of losing his job.
In addition, Dan’s son-in-law, Matthew Switzer, joined the company as a partner investing some of his own money to help get the business up and running. The pair identified a gap in the market after discovering a three month waiting list for LGV lessons and tests in the North East.
Keen to capitalise on what they saw was a niche in the market, they are now attracting interest from companies in Belgium, Holland and Sweden.
Closer to home, Cleveland LGV Training Ltd has secured a number of contracts for significant local companies, including delivering JCB Bomag Ride on Roller training for PD Ports.
Dan, who spent four years sub-contracted at SSI as a LGV driver and driver trainer, said: “Initially I was looking for work and had a few offers in the transport industry, but I felt there was an opportunity in training and I was hoping for a new challenge after having driven commercially for more than 20 years.”
The skills and experience within the new company amounts to a combined 43 years in the steel and training industry for the four former SSI colleagues alone.
Dan, who is Operations and Training Director, is supported by former steel plant workers, Dave Thompson, 53, Derek Bailey, 56, Jim Glew, 53 who will all deliver various LGV training including ADR Tuition (Dangerous Goods Training and DCPC (Driver Certificate For Professional Competence) which is a legal requirement for LGV drivers.
Dan now is looking to employ another two staff as the demand for his company’s services continues to grow.
Dan, added: “I could never in my wildest dreams, have imagined the success we currently are enjoying. We have been working seven days a week to satisfy customer requirements.
“I would highly recommend that anyone in my situation, who is considering setting up their own business, seek advice from the Task Force. The support I received was second-to-none and it even continues after the funding stage, which will be useful if we encounter any challenges as we expand.”
Dan received financial support from The Business Advice Start Up Fund and the SSI Task Force Flexible Skills Support Fund.
Amanda Skelton, Chief Executive of Redcar and Cleveland Council and Chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “I would like to congratulate Dan and his colleagues for their vision and courage. They have worked incredibly hard to get this new business off the ground and the Task Force has been delighted to help.
“I would like to wish them every success in the future and hope that their experience will inspire others.”
Paul Booth, Chairman of Tees Valley Unlimited, the Local Enterprise Partnership for Tees Valley, said: “Dan’s commitment to former colleagues at SSI is admirable. Four people connected with SSI and six people in total are now employed through his endeavour and it proves how, with the right support, talented and skilled workers can be retained in the Tees Valley.
“I hope this will encourage other people in similar circumstances to seek help from the Task Force Fund.”
Support from a number of organisations around the Tees Valley is available, including The Five Lamps organisation, which provided valuable assistance for Dan and his venture.
The Business Advice Start Up Fund, administered by NEEAL, already has proven extremely popular with nearly 250 people receiving advice and guidance and over £430,000 of funding awarded to 56 people starting their own business.
Anyone interested in the scheme and looking for further information should contact NEEAL on 0191 516 6093 or visit http://www.teesbusinesscompass.co.uk
A package of flexible support is open to those made redundant from SSI itself, their partners, as well as those similarly affected within contracting companies and the SSI supply chain.
Those who wish to undertake refresher or top-up training to enhance their existing skills or who wish to re-skill to move into a new sustainable career, will now be able to do so using the SSI Flexible Skills Support Fund.
Those who wish to access this fund should contact JobCentre Plus / National Careers Service on 0191 382 1003