How it all Started

A 27-year-old electrician from Newport who started his own business after being made redundant when he was an apprentice is celebrating after his company announced a record-breaking turnover of more than £2m.

Craig Lewis, who lives in Risca, launched Advanced Electrical Solutions in February 2010 with fellow electrician Adrian Smith, 40, after being made redundant as an apprentice electrician with a firm based in Gwent.

Less than three years on and after funding his own training, Advanced Electrical Solutions has a workforce of more than 20 people, including some of the electricians Craig used to work alongside, and a rosta of clients which includes Brains, William Hill, Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Newport Transport and Coleg Gwent.

The company, which was started from Craig’s living room in Risca without any bank loans, now has a head office on Corporation Road and is one of South Wales’ leading specialists in solar panel fitting and IT communication and retail electrical installation. The former apprentice even employs five trainee electricians as the company looks to continue its expansion in 2013.

Craig said: “When I was made redundant it did come as a bit of a shock and I was left thinking ‘what do I do next?’. I’d always wanted to run my own business, but thought that this would be something I did when I was older. Being made redundant almost forced my hand.

craig“I was lucky to know Adrian from the company I had been made redundant from. I was serving my apprenticeship under him and we had become good friends. Importantly he shared the same aspirations as me so we thought ‘why not?’ When we started the company we had high hopes, but the growth we have seen has surpassed even our expectations. We have worked hard from the outset making ourselves known to other businesses and stakeholders. I think importantly though we deliver a very high quality level of service and professionalism and that has spoken loudest for us in generating new business.”

Within its first 12-months the company had employed 10 people and reached a turnover of £500K with all profits being directed back into the business to stimulate further growth and expansion.

Adrian said: “From the start we have adopted a policy of making the business sustainable from its own income. We have never taken out a loan to pay for things like materials or vehicles and have funded the growth of the company purely through the profits we make. We typically invest around 70% of our gross profit back into the business. We believe this gives us a stronger footing to push the company forward in the coming years.”

Over the last 12 months the company has strengthened its position in the market place with a number of high-profile contract wins including Welsh brewery Brains.

Craig said: “We initially looked after one of the company’s Coffee#1 outlets in Cardiff. They were pleased with our work and agreed for us to look after the rest of the Coffee#1 chain as well as the company’s bars and public houses. We manage the electrical maintenance of these outlets alongside IT installation and the fitting of CCTV, intruder and smoke alarms.”

The company has also built itself a strong reputation within the specialist solar panel market place. Already this year it has fitted solar panels to part of Rhondda Housing Association’s housing stock as well as the building and installation of solar farms in Newbridge and Usk.

Craig said the company has high hopes for 2013 with plans for a new office base in the West Country. He said: “We’re looking at building and expanding upon our presence in this area as we already undertake a significant amount of work in the region. To have an office base there will save us the cost of sending vehicles to and from places like Exeter. For us it is important we keep growing but at a pace that means we remain in control.”