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Harwell Innovation Centre manager Sandie Alcock with directors and staff of Oxon Conversions who have just moved into the Centre

Innovative Building Firm Building Business Growth at Harwell Innovation Centre

Having successfully survived one of the most challenging periods for the building industry, specialist loft and renovation firm Oxon Conversions is set to expand further with a move to Harwell Innovation Centre.

Founded in 2005 by Greg Lester, Ian Woodward and Mark Busby, Oxon Conversions manages new builds and renovations across the whole of Oxfordshire. Already recognised for exceptional workmanship and professionalism, the innovative company has recently invested heavily in design software. This enables them it to deliver a full design and build service usually associated with much larger construction firms.

The recent move to the Innovation Centre at Harwell was not one taken lightly by the company directors and reflects the challenges many owner-run businesses face. Originally hands-on Greg, Ian and Mark, were each trying to work on-site all day while taking responsibility for different elements of the business in the evenings. Greg commented:

“We often talked of taking office space but until we looked at the offer at Harwell Innovation Centre it felt like too big a commitment. I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions we made.

“While we each had a dedicated home office, running a business like ours from three separate locations in the evenings was simply not sustainable. As demand for our services – especially our design and build which takes out the expense of architect fees – was in danger of outstripping supply we knew that we needed to have someone solely responsible for the business side of the operation.”

Since moving to Harwell Innovation Centre in November, Greg has come ‘off the tools’ and manages the day-to-day business of a successful construction firm. Because of this he now has the time to focus on driving further business growth in the specialist build and eco-home sector.

“Moving to Harwell Innovation Centre has seen our efficiency increase by approximately 20%. Each partner now has a clear role and this has improved productivity tremendously because there are no half measures or getting bogged down with the challenges of running a business from home after a hard day on site.”

“That said, we directors still do meet after work and again this is where Harwell Innovation Centre comes into its own. Because of the flexible hours we are not limited to 9-5 like in so many other office locations we looked at. We can have team meetings at the end of the week with everyone as well as director level strategic planning meetings that go on late into the evening meaning that we really get our money’s worth in terms of hours of use from the office space.”

Greg concludes: “Although it felt like a huge step (taking office space) once we’d chatted to the team at Harwell Innovation Centre we realised that they were on our side. The flexibility it offers was perfect at the time but if we continue to grow at this pace we will soon need to explore more office space and Harwell can support us in that expansion.”

Sandie Alcock, Centre Manager, Harwell Innovation Centre, said: “Oxon Conversions is a superb local success story and we’re delighted to provide the company with a platform for future business growth. With investment in software for a design and build service the company has truly demonstrated the same innovative approach to industry that we see in so many of our customers.”

Harwell Innovation Centre, located at Harwell Oxford Campus near Didcot and managed by Oxford Innovation, has just over 25,000 sq. ft. of office space ranging from 100 sq. ft. to 1,700 sq. ft. Serviced offices are available to let at short notice and the centre’s flexible approach means businesses can take more space within the centre as they expand.