The past few months have proven to be a turbulent time for most businesses and although the economy is now starting to open up again, challenges still remain.
The West Lothian Chamber acknowledges that there has been a vast amount of support for businesses through funding and the furlough scheme, but this has not necessary been accessible for all businesses. To cope with this, we have noticed a vast amount of our businesses taking an innovative approach to their survival during this time, one of those companies being Fleximix Concrete.
For Fleximix Concrete, work ground to a halt at the end of March with the lockdown starting in Scotland.
All staff were furloughed, they struggled to get in contact with their debtors and most stopped paying their bills, their suppliers still needed to be paid, and cash very quickly dried up. This will be a very familiar story that businesses can relate to.
Unfortunately, Fleximix Concrete is not entitled to a government small business grant because of their classification as a yard which is excluded from the scheme, this issue is currently being brought to Government’s attention via Councillor Horne, West Lothian Chamber and Scottish Chambers.
Fleximix Concrete operate very expensive plant machinery and, as you can imagine, have a significant amount of finance debt to service. Fortunately, their financiers have supported them through offering payment holidays, but it has been a tough few month’s for the business.
To ensure their survival, Fleximix had to look at imaginative ways to save the business and in the last two months have diversified.
Firstly, they have had to radically rethink the Fleximix Concrete model to adhere to the distancing guidelines, reduce the amount of credit offered to customers and strengthen the balance sheet, and to sustain better cash flow.
Secondly, they have opened up a builder’s merchant, selling building materials including aggregates, cement, steel reinforcement and other related products. To do so they have had to take on additional yard space and have created two new jobs to manage the yard. These roles are currently filled by Fleximix staff that have been diverted due to the temporary change in their operating model.
Thirdly, they have started a new business, Gravel Rocks Aggregates Ltd, to sell decorative aggregates sourced from around the UK, Europe and further afield, to both retail and trade customers.
In order to deliver the aggregates and building supplies they have hired in a hiab crane vehicle and an agency driver. They have also decided to add a new office role for Fleximix and are considering a marketing role too.
So, by the end of the year, Fleximix Concrete will be looking to create up to 5 new roles within the whole business. The aggregate business is largely retail, sold online and through social media, which is something they have zero experience of, therefore they are looking at staff training, new marketing opportunities and also looking at new machinery.