Tinhay - bigger than you think

Published:  10 May, 2011

TAVISTOCK: Entrepreneurs Robert Sorrell and Paul Davies were celebrating the end of April, just one month after adding a third branch to their growing network of Tinhay Building Supplies.

The business partners opened a branch on Pixon Lane in Tavistock on 4 April 2011, just twelve years after starting their business venture in Lifton.

Robert and Paul have operated their successful network of builder’s merchants in two extreme economic environments – and have adapted their approach to ensure Tinhay Building Supplies is here to stay.

With two successful branches in Lifton and Launceston, Robert and Paul know that they operate a viable business model and have what it takes to make their enterprise work.

Robert Sorrell, director said: “The only way businesses will succeed  in the current economic environment is by investing. You will not prosper if you simply focus on cost cutting, but if you look at cost management, you will reap the rewards.

“To grow our business operation, we needed somebody to show they had confidence in our expansion plans and provide us with the financial support we needed to make them happen. We used an Enterprise Finance Guarantee backed loan (EFG), as a means to grow and develop a third branch.

“The economic conditions when we started in 1999 were very different to those we face today, so the usual funding avenues are either closed, or very difficult to access. Tinhay Building Supplies Limited would not have opened its third branch without the EFG backing.”

The EFG scheme was set up under the Labour Government to encourage banks to lend to small businesses. As the government guarantees 75per cent of the loan, lenders including the main high street banks, see the loan as a less of a risk. Last year the Lib/Con Coalition announced that the Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme will continue until 2014 and during that time it is aiming to free up £2bn of lending for around 6,000 companies.

“For any business operation to succeed, the foundations need to be right, said Robert, “You need to know your market, but more importantly, you need to be able to adapt to meet changing needs – without compromising your own long term objectives or deviating from your business plan.”

By expanding to a third site, the Tinhay partners have invested £250,000 to build a bigger business that they hope will deliver  a 25 per cent  increase in sales in the first year.

Before opening their Lifton branch in 1999, Robert Sorrell and Paul Davies worked for national builder’s merchants as area and branch managers. Their sector experience means they have devised a business model that is built around customers.

When expanding their company, Robert and Paul used their business know-how and personal experience to develop a business model that has enabled them to expand their geographic customer base and their product and service range – without having to open a superstore!

They have done this by making sure each of their branches offers the core range of products you would expect to find in any good builder’s merchant, but they have given each location an additional set of specialist products and services. Their enterprising business model ensures that customers benefit from all of their branches, regardless of the one they choose to visit. This means that if a customer in their Tavistock branch needs a specialist product held at their Launceston branch, the Tinhay team arrange for it to be at the Tavistock branch later the same day. By operating this model Tinhay Building Supplies is able to give its customers what they need from local, easy to access branches.

Robert Sorrell said, “People in the building trade are busy and need good and prompt service with expert advice as well as competitive prices. The current economic downturn has meant people are investing in their properties, rather than selling them and this means that customers are spending money on maintaining and improving their homes, and as such coming to Tinhay Building Supplies to help them to do that.

“As an independent and local business we are also benefiting from the increasing cynicism and mistrust people have for big brand name companies, who often put the needs of shareholders before the needs of customers.

“At Tinhay Building Supplies we are proud to be able to deliver a product and service range equal to that of the national brands. But we are even prouder of the fact that we are able to reinvest in the local economy and provide our customers with personal service and products that enable them to grow their own businesses and make a profit too.”

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