A-frame firm in the running for award

A business dedicated to providing accessories for motorhomes has been entered for small business of the year in the International Trade Section Business Awards competition run by UK Trade and Investment.

The company, Towtal, specialise in the A-frame tow bars familiar to all motorhome owners but have also branched out into almost any accessory a holder of motorhome insurance could wish for, including: air conditioning, disability access and even engine upgrades. The company now operate out of premises in Fenton, one of the towns that make up Stoke-on-Trent, and it is a far cry from their previous premises, a farm shed, which co-owner Will Bark said had a leaking roof which soaked everyone every time it rained.

Will, who started the business up with his dad before co-partner Phil Graham moved in, said the company, which now has a turnover of £1.3 million, had suffered deeply in the recession, explaining “In 2007 and 2008 we were hitting our heights, we’d moved to Grove Road and made all sorts of efforts to grow the business. But then the recession hit and we went from a turnover of £1 million to around £600,000. A big company we worked for went bankrupt and we lost around £35,000. It set a chain reaction in place and we were pushed into a heavy and quite difficult financial position.”

Will said the turnaround started a couple of years ago when his friend Phil Graham joined the business. Will and his dad look after the manufacturing side of the business while Phil uses his management expertise to keep an eye on expenditure. He said: “Ever since I came in I’ve enjoyed doing my best for the business. The main thing I’ve focused on is trying to cut the costs of everything we do. They used to run things a bit ‘old school’ here and it was just a case of knuckling down and putting a system into place.”

The company are not so well known in their home towns but already have a reputation in France, Belgium and Luxembourg and it is Europe they intend to target for the future growth of Towtal.