WHITE KNIGHT Service Group is an innovative company based in Corby working with commercial clients to offer cleaning solutions and provide disaster recovery plans in the wake of large fires or significant water damage. The business, which has been operating for 3 years and has a team of nine employees, also offers a specialist decontamination service, working to remove sewage or cleaning potential bio-hazards and blood-borne pathogens.
For the vast majority of SMEs, the onset of coronavirus brought on a period of uncertainty and unease. For WHITE KNIGHT it presented an unlikely opportunity.
Chief executive, Phil Edwards, who has been in the industry for over 35 years, closely followed the spread of COVID-19 in China and noted the sudden upsurge in the demand for cleaning, particularly the cleaning of pathogens.
This was an area in which Phil had some level of expertise, having previously worked in America and seen the development of a product called SteraMist. This high-pressure, military grade cleaning product, developed by TOMI, uses a low concentration Hydrogen Peroxide solution passed over a plasma arc, to create a harmless gas to kill any contaminants within five seconds of coming into contact with a surface or the air. The only by-product being water and oxygen.
Recognising that the threat of a global pandemic was on the horizon, Phil spotted an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and invested £25,000 to buy in his own SteraMist equipment, becoming the first company in the UK to offer this solution.
Having invested in potentially game-changing equipment, WHITE KNIGHT needed to be ready for the likely growth coming their way, as demand for their services sky-rocketed in line with the surging infection rates as COVID-19 took hold.
Phil recalled a previous meeting with representatives of SEMLEP’s Growth Hub and decided now was the time to engage with a business adviser. Within a week, he had sat down with our High Growth Business Adviser, Jacqueline Day, and completed an analysis of his business, highlighting gaps in the company’s current offering and opportunities to fill them.
He immediately enrolled onto the Growth Curve programme and completed two online half day ‘masterclass’ sessions where he met other business owners to talk through a range of scenarios and strategies to strengthen his leadership skills and help get White Knight on track for attainable long-term growth.
The Growth Curve programme allowed Phil to rethink his role and straight away he switched his attention from working ‘in’ his business to working ‘on’ it – identifying growth opportunities and fast-tracking potential new revenue streams, including an exciting new franchise model.
Within weeks of completing the masterclass sessions WHITE KNIGHT has agreed a deal with TOMI to become the UK and Europe ‘service centre’ for SteraMist while funding is in place to bring in new staff to oversee the franchise offer, six months ahead of schedule.
Phil said: “The Growth Curve programme has accelerated our business and put us on track to get to the next level quicker than we could ever have expected.
“I don’t believe in reinventing the wheel so the chance to speak to other business leaders and pick their brains to see how they do things really appealed to me. If it’s worked for them, there’s no reason it couldn’t work for me too. The masterclass sessions were brilliant, everyone chipped in and there was a real cross-fertilisation of ideas.
“It made me realise that for over 30 years all the decisions had just come out of my head. I needed to get them down on paper so the leadership team can read them, understand them, contribute to them and implement them. I’ve always been more of a tactician than a strategist, but I’ve now learnt to trust others and let them get on with it.
“The franchising model is something that’s been on the backburner for a while but this has brought it forward significantly. It’s an opportunity to grow the company further and, thanks to SEMLEP’s Growth Hub we’re now ready to go and looking forward to getting started.”