Marc Burrows and Cornelius Kleynhans will be expanding into the construction industry starting in early 2019 with their new Western Isles Construction service.
Marc, originally from Lancashire, and South-Africa born Cornelius have been in the energy efficiency industry for over a decade and have been partners for four years. Together, they have spent a year in the Western Isles insulating over 200 houses as part of the government-funded Energy Company Obligation Scheme (ECO).
"As soon as we landed in the Western Isles, we fell in love with the place," reveals Marc. Based at 9 North Beach in Stornoway, the team offer free insulation from Lewis to South Uist. "Initially, we found it difficult to work on the islands. We had to have haulage bring things over on the ferry. Also, the weather impacted what we could get done," reveals Cornelius. "Now, we are used to it – it's just like anywhere else, except you have to plan a bit further in advance!"
New developments mean the team will soon be able to offer plumbing, electrical works, decorating, joinery, plastering and roofing as part of their new Western Isles Construction service. "We already have the skill-set in-house," Cornelius notes. "It's just a case of growing what we already do and, instead of being grant-funded, we have paying customers."
The partners hope that their new venture will enable them to create secure jobs for their current and future employees. "90% of our employees are local," says Marc. "But ECO is a three-year scheme, so we don't want to start laying people off after those three years. We want to create a legacy and add to the local economy. We are already a big local employer and we want to grow that."
Will the construction business go hand-in-hand with the insulation work?
"We don't really know," Marc reveals. "But, rather than be at the behest of government policy, the construction business is stand-alone."
Helping local youngsters is a major consideration for Marc and Cornelius. Cornelius notes: "We want to help local colleges by offering apprenticeships to young people wanting to learn a trade.
“If we can create jobs for the locals, then more young people can stay on the island."
The team aim to build on the good reputation they have already established in the islands. "We plan to offer a reliable, affordable service," says Marc. "We don't want customers to pay a fortune and then wait months for the work to be done! We will turn up when we say we will and deliver a quality service."
To discuss your construction-related needs, get in touch with the Western Isles Insulation Operations Manager, Christian, on 0800 062 950, visit their website at https://westernislesinsulation.co.uk/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/westernislesinsulation.