Harrogate Steel was established in early 2017 and during the last four years has grown and evolved into a leading structural steel and metalwork business, fabricating and installing steel for a wide variety of projects, ranging from educational buildings and industrial units to NHS facilities and football ground facility upgrades.
In 2020, despite the challenges the world faced as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company launched Sports Stadia; an end-to-end sports ground improvement division offering everything from initial concept design through to installation. The launch followed the completion of Harrogate Steel’s first full football stand project for local EFL Club, Harrogate Town. The 900-seater cantilevered main spectator stand ‘future-proofed’ the Club with first-class facilities as it looked to gain promotion to the English Football League.
Harrogate Steel was set up by friends Richard Searle and Dan Worsell. As the business goes from strength to strength, Commercial Director Richard and Operations Director Dan reflect on getting to this point and open up about their roles, why they chose the steel industry, their plans for the future and highlights in the journey so far:
What do your roles at Harrogate Steel involve?
Richard: As Commercial Director my role is to be at the forefront of all commercial matters, winning business and leading the team in estimating and sales, liaising with clients, suppliers, and industry contacts. I also find ways to promote the company, making sure we are visible through strategic marketing that generates enquiries, and I then work with those clients and our team to deliver what they need.
Dan: As Operations Director a typical day for me is ensuring that we are meeting deadlines in the fabrication workshop, that our sites are running smoothly and that customers are happy. I see myself as aftercare for the customer as once the design is complete, I oversee projects from fabrication right through to handover, making sure we deliver a quality service every time.
Why steel? What made you both choose the steel industry?
Richard: It chose me. My father was an engineer and welder with his own company, so I suppose it was in my blood. I worked with him for a while but then moved into steel stockholding in my late teens. I’ve genuinely never ever thought of doing anything else and they say once you are in, you can never get out, which is proving true in my case!
Dan: Similarly, my family has always been involved in engineering and construction in one guise or another. I have always been interested in architecture and buildings and how they are structured so working with steel was the perfect route for me. I love it when our work challenges us and if I could choose a dream project it would be to work on a central London building – the more complex the better!
What has been your biggest business highlight so far?
Richard: I would have to say the spectator stand at Harrogate Town. To contribute significantly to something that so many people in our town and our community can enjoy (eventually, when restrictions ease!), and use gives me a real sense of pride. To have been trusted by the owners and directors of the Club means a lot as this was a significant investment for them, but also a key part of their growth at an exciting stage in its history.
Dan: For me two real ‘stand out’ projects are Harrogate Grammar School and the Allam Diabetes Centre in Hull. By playing our part in the construction of such important education and NHS buildings it really feels like we are giving something back to local communities, supporting those organisations to continue to thrive and provide such essential and important services.
What are your hopes/plans/ambitions for the business in the future?
Richard: To continue to build a diverse and sustainable business that our clients admire, and our employees enjoy working for. We have always taken pride in the fact that we are not your ‘typical’ steel fabrication business. Our Operations Manager, for example, not only manages the operational side of our business, he is also a leading steel work artist, designing and crafting sculptures and installations for customers around the world from our factory. We nurture the talent within our team and make it fit with our business which means we can always offer something different and unexpected to our customers.
Dan: For the future my ambition is for Harrogate Steel to be a well-known, responsible company providing great service and reputation. The wellbeing of our staff of course is paramount to that. We have some exciting projects on the horizon and new appointments that support our growth strategy and we look forward to expanding into new sectors as well as working with new contractors.
Finally, what makes you most proud about the work that you do?
Richard: As a business we are reaching milestones every few weeks that we never thought we could achieve a few years ago. Without the team we have, we couldn’t do what we do. Every time we move up a level and complete a project more complex and larger than before, I feel pride in our staff and their commitment to building the business and to playing an important role in the journey.
Dan: We have both been particularly proud of how our team has handled working with the procedures around COVID19. This has been an uncertain time for everyone, and they have taken everything very seriously which has allowed the business to provide an uninterrupted level of service for our customers.