SICL’s move gets staff talking

From Yorkshire Business Insider, November 2015

Ashley Woodman, owner of SICL, opted to purchase new office premises at Pavillion Business Park, Leeds, when SICL outgrew its previous premises. The business moved in the summer having paid £550,000, plus another £100,000 on ‘the best green air-conditioning system we could get’ as well as furniture and decorations.

“The consideration was safety for the business,” Ash says. “During the recession I wanted to make sure we were solid and had good foundations. It was about underpinning the business. We owned our last premises too. I paid the mort-gage off in the same month the recession hit and said ‘they can’t throw us out now’.

“I had a friend who had a bad debt with an American company. Eventually the banks called it in, but he was able to say we are going into administration, but I will pay you back. The only thing that saved him was owning his premises.

“We have it on a 999-year lease though and each year I mark off a year,” Ash jokes. “And from an investment perspective, property prices rise. We bought it through our pension fund and rent it from them. So it is a good way of getting money out of your business. If you are going to rent your premises for 25 years it is probably an investment company that owns it and I see it as a waste of money. If I leave the building, then I have nothing to show for it.

“We moved to get all the staff on to one floor. There were parts of our old building that we couldn’t use so we ended up with people on different floors. And because there were stairs people couldn’t be bothered to go and see somebody on another floor. If you get people on one floor communication will happen.

“Our conversion rate has gone up 50 per cent since we moved. We don’t have set seats. The technicians and sales guys sit next to each other. We don’t have partitions or separate offices for managers and directors.”