Motorcycle enthusiasts David Spavins and Barbara Swords have started a thriving business with the help of St Helens Chamber and the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA).
David and Barbara were referred to St Helens Chamber’s Business Start Up service by their local Job Centre Plus, which provided support and guidance to entrepreneurs looking to take the first step in starting a business.
Barbara said: “Dave and I are both disabled. I was a nursing assistant for 22 years and Dave was an electrical engineer but we were both medically retired.”
“We aren’t the type of people that can sit around and do nothing, and Dave has always been passionate about bikes and repairing them, so we decided to start a business.”
“This way, we can sit when we need to and stand when we need to, so suits our needs as disabled people.”
Barbara and Dave met with a Business Start Up adviser from St Helens Chamber who supported their transition from receiving benefits to working for themselves.
Barbara explains: “We met Stella through the Job Centre Plus who was very helpful and showed us how to put our business plan together. She also gave us information about what help we could get from the government.
“We needed some support to start a business, we couldn’t just stop our benefits and she put us on the right path. Now if I need any help or have any questions, I can email her or ring her and she always gets back to me.”
The pair were eligible to receive the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), which provides a package of support to people who want to get back into work through self-employment. With this help, they were able to develop their motorcycle store and repair shop, Wheeliez.
Wheeliez is a family run business and continues to build a good reputation among its clientele. Barbara also explains that the business fills a gap in the motorcycle market.
She said: “There wasn’t a lot out there for the youngsters in the 125cc market to have repairs done and get a good service. They tend to be sold the bikes and get sent on their merry way so, with our own children in mind, we decided to open Wheeliez.”
“We don’t just sell the bikes, we give good customer service and people know they can trust us if there are any issues.”
“We have a good reputation on Facebook and on our website, most of our ratings are 5 star and we’d like to keep it that way.”
Wheeliez are a growing business and, as part of a commitment to that growth, they have taken on an Apprentice motorcycle mechanic.
Barbara said: “We are growing quite quickly at the moment, so our plan is to look for bigger premises next year.
“If we don’t find the right place, we will stay here and expand the unit by putting in mezzanine flooring.
Wheeliez have also been engaging with high profile, multinational clients. Suzuki have approached the business to become their Liverpool base and negotiations are ongoing.
Barbara added: “Overall starting up has been a positive experience, it has been very hard work but we knew that coming in, and it’s starting to pay off now.”