A Sheffield based furniture maker’s steely determination has helped his business to survive the lockdown and come out the other side even stronger than before.
When other businesses were frantically looking at new and different ways to navigate the storm that was to come, Steve Mumby quickly adapted. Working smarter and harder, he and his small team of master craftsmen are now coming out the other side even stronger.
Steve founded Creative Fab Worx in 2017 from humble beginnings. Being entirely self-taught, he has a fierce resilience and unshakeable determination to succeed.
When the lockdown hit, he was able to honour all existing orders, though many pending orders were put on hold; and three customers ceased trading almost overnight.
“I certainly wasn’t going to give up because of a virus” he says, “but I was prepared to adapt”.
“I work with some amazing craftsmen, all of whom are incredibly talented and loyal. I was forced to reduce their hours so that I could stagger their presence in the workshop and adhere to social distancing rules – but this meant that nobody faced being furloughed, or worse.” he explained.
The toughest challenge was the lockdown’s effect on deliveries. With up to 50% of the furniture’s price payable on delivery, cash-flow was badly affected.
But the business qualified for the Small Business Grant Scheme, which ensured they could get hold of the raw materials needed to fulfil orders, pay the rent for their workshop and continue to operate.
“This was greatly reassuring for us” he said, pointing out “our Landlord is one of the good guys and he still needed to get paid, so this grant was crucial!”
During the lockdown, Steve spent a great deal of time reflecting on his business and finding solutions to run more efficiently in the future. He launched a new website and developed a robust, effective marketing strategy. Social media has helped the business to stay connected and keep his customers informed that they are still very much open for business.
They’ve had to change the way they work going forward, mainly due to social distancing measures. The workshop is now covered in health & safety related stickers and floor markings and they are fully stocked up with hand sanitiser, gloves and masks.
But the easing of the lockdown has presented a new challenge; as barbershops and hairdressers are re-opening, Steve and the team have been working 24/7 to fulfil orders received at short notice for their Sweeney barbershop range, and endeavouring to get all deliveries and installations completed before 4th July.
“We’ve taken on more staff to meet demand, which is great, but with social distancing measure in place we simply don’t have room for everyone in the workshop at the same time; so we’ve been working outside too!” he chuckled.
When asked if he is optimistic for the future, he revealed “Our order book is full and we can’t wait to get back out to see our customers faces when we install their individual statement furniture pieces. I’m so lucky to have such a great team around me. I’ve big plans for growth so, yes, I’m incredibly optimistic about the future.”