Four years ago Richard Selby and a business partner took the leap to leave their successful roles to set up Pro Steel Engineering. Initially laughed at by bank managers when asking for a business loan, the company has gone on to deliver significant projects including the roof-strengthening work to London’s Olympic Stadium.

Our main challenges when starting the business

Needless to say setting up the business had its challenges including one of its first clients owing Pro Steel over £200k within the business’ first year (and this client subsequently went into administration). Richard learned very quickly the lesson of not putting all your eggs in one basket, as even the big-named companies aren’t protected against financial difficulties that can have a major impact on SMEs. Often this is the turning point for when SMEs reflect and choose whether to continue or cut their losses. Pro Steel ended up losing out on £28k as the client dissolved but this lesson proved valuable in the future of Pro Steel.

Success Factor

Pro Steel continues to bid against larger companies throughout the UK but thanks to winning projects including the Olympic Park, its reputation is going from strength to strength. Moving to larger premises in 2015 and the building of a dedicated steel fabrication warehouse have been big steps forward for Pro Steel. This new facility offers greater flexibility to clients as well as the capability to develop and introduce new systems and processes to overcome on-site challenges and create more effective solutions for clients and projects – something competitors aren’t doing so is a USP for the Caldicot-based company. The directors also surrounded themselves with expert professionals (across branding, finance and PR) who have helped to grow the business as it has allowed them to focus on the high level activity. This has also helped to create a big brand feeling for a small company – by thinking and talking big, it has helped to sell the business to larger projects.

The Future

Over the next five years, Pro Steel is looking to expand the service offering even further as well as increase the offsite workforce. The firm is also looking to identify cross-sector opportunities to work with new markets and clients which will ultimately require the recruitment of middle-management personnel. To help make all of this a success, the directors will be looking to capitalise on government infrastructure spend and put themselves at the forefront of major infrastructure projects both in Wales and beyond.