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My Business Story: Dave Brown of Handryers UK,
My experience in the world of Washroom Hygiene Facilities began in the 1970’s when I started work for Initial Services, Bradford ,as sales manager, (now Rentokil), selling cabinet towels ( the long cloth towels on a role). At that time in England, Hand Dryers were just beginning to make an appearance, and were originally fitted in Motorway Service Stations along the recently built M1. First produced in America by a company called ‘World Dryer Corporation, later named ‘Warner Howard ’, they were used in service stations along the American Highway in the 1960’s, having first been invented by a Chicago native called Clemens, in 1948.
After being made redundant from IS in 1989 I began to see a possible future development for the hand dryer, although my beginnings were small, selling Janitorial products door to door as a sole trader. It was during this time that I began to make contacts, by hearing of pubs, clubs and night clubs that were opening in the local area, and that might be interested in installing hand dryers as opposed to paper towels.
As my business developed, I gave it the company name ‘ Excel Hygiene’ which provided a range of products including glass washers, paper towels and soap dispensers. In 2006 I computerized the business, developing a web site and online presence, and began to focus more on providing hand dryers, both to buy and rent, re branding the company as ‘HandryersUK’ http://www.handryersuk.co.uk/ and supplying Nationwide, throughout the UK and Ireland. I have a main fitter, based in Manchester, but I can outsource to other fitters, or can provide hand dryers to be put in by a customers own fitter.
The earliest hand dryers were manual ones, which consisted of a fan, a motor, a heating element and a push button. These early dryers took about 30 seconds to dry hands, and blew out hot air, which was sometimes a concern as a spread for bacteria. To alleviate these disadvantages, automatic or touchless dryers came into use. These were sensor activated, therefore reducing the spread of germs through push buttons. Some of them also forced air out instead of blowing hot air which was thought to be more hygienic. Modern dryers are now designed to reduce drying time to 10- 15 seconds .They are more user and environment friendly due to reduction of power and energy consumption.
Originally my company provided just one type of dryer, the Supreme dryer. I remember the first one I fitted ,which was to a manor house in Sheffield. The owners wanted one placing in a small entrance hall, so that the gardener could wash his hands without entering the main part of the house in his muddy boots!. Now I provide over 50 different types of dryers, including the very popular Xcelerator,( which dries your hands in less than 10 seconds), and, faster, more environmentally friendly dryers are being invented all the time.
The advice I would give for anyone setting up their own business is to research the market carefully to ensure there is a niche for your chosen product, have a data base of potentially interested clientele, and be prepared to take a calculated risk in developing and, hopefully, extending your business. The advantages of working from home, means that overheads are low (without the need to rent premises or have a staffing budget) but it is important to remain focused, with daily targets and priorities, and not be tempted into making endless cups of coffee or to get started on household chores!
If you need to use suppliers it is important to feel confident that they will provide a good service. I have, over time, built up a small list of trusted and reliable suppliers (based on them providing the best price and quick service) having dealt with some for over 20 years! They vary, from manufacturers, to importers of dryers (some companies making up the dryers from imported parts).
As for the future. I hope to develop the rental side of the market, whilst always on the look out for newly opening pubs, restaurants and businesses, as well as continuing to provide a good service for existing customers!