Entrepreneur Simon Crowther explains how the severe floods of 2012 inspired him to launch his £2m turnover Flood Protection Solutions business.
Simon Crowther is unlike most 23-year-olds. Having recently graduated from The University of Nottingham in civil engineering, he already has his own business employing four people.
Flood Protection Solutions is the sole UK distributor of the Water-Gate barrier, a temporary flood defence system manufactured in Canada and sold worldwide via a number of distributors.
Launching the business whilst in his first year of University, he has since turned the company into a £2m turnover import business.
You might be wondering, like I was, how a first-year University student even came up with the idea to launch such an innovative business?
He told BQ: “In 2007 when I was 13 years old, the family home suffered extensive flooding. We were out of the house for a year whilst it was repaired. We never wanted to go through the upheaval, expense and stress again.
“We scoured the market and discovered an innovative Canadian roll out flood defence called Water-Gate. We purchased one, and the barrier remained unused until 2012 when the village suffered flooding again.
“The Water-Gate saved the house from flooding, and suitably impressed, I subsequently contacted the manufacturer, and following a meeting in Paris, I secured the sole UK distributor rights for the product. I was keen to help others protect themselves from the upheaval, expense and stress that flooding causes.”
It has now been five years since Crowther launched the business and Flood Protection Solutions has grown rapidly with its own office in Nottingham employing four members of staff.
He adds: “Over the past five years I have grown Flood Protection Solutions Ltd from nothing, to a business that helps residents, businesses and agencies across the UK, with a multi-million-pound turnover.
“We believe education is key to pushing the industry forward. We are currently investing heavily in product developments and supply chain improvements, including an eLearning portal, so that all our customers are confident with the product.
“For example, we have just had a professional video created showing us damming a river using a Water-Gate, we have a great selection of case studies showing our work.
“The Water-Gate’s effectiveness in controlling flood waters has also helped to secure contracts from clients such as Thames Water, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency.”
So, what does Crowther put this rapid growth down to? He said: “At Flood Protection Solutions Ltd we have been disruptive and this has helped massively with our growth.
“We have pushed a traditional industry forwards, education is key and we raised the importance of whole life cycle costing, which was previously ignored.
“The Water-Gate is reusable and all parts can be recycled, this has been a big selling point against traditional sandbags which must be disposed of once used as they are contaminated.”
Entrepreneurs draw inspiration from all walks of life and Crowther’s story is a perfect example of how you can turn personal trauma into triumph.
Simon concluded: “After being flooded in 2007, and experiencing the upheaval, expense and stress that it causes, I love helping reduce people’s flood risk.
“I also enjoy the business aspects and there are continual developments – I am learning something new every day! Alongside this I have developed a network of great business contacts and we all help each other, it’s a fantastic network to be involved with.
“I have also just returned from Canada where I visited the Water-Gate factory. We have a lot of exciting developments in the pipeline, including developing a very thorough eLearning portal for our customers. We will continue to push the industry forwards, and as the Water-Gate is versatile we will start focusing more on pollution control incidents.
“As an engineer working in flood defence, I work all around the country. Too often I see businesses, residents and agencies with either the wrong type of pump, or a poor quality one. We have since launched floodandwaterpumps.co.uk in a bid to change this. We have handpicked the best quality water pumps on the market, and made them available online with next day delivery. I’m excited to see how this can grow and diversify our business.”