Wired for Growth

December 1st 2023

WIRED FOR GROWTH: Luke Tanner, founder and managing director of Empire Electrical & Mechanical Solutions, left, with colleagues and Stephen Deller, centre, who is the centre manager at Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton. Following strong commercial demand, and going into its fourth year of trading, Luke’s firm has signed up to workspace at the serviced offices building run by Oxford Innovation Space.

A former Royal Marines Commando has signed up to workspace at Ocean Village Innovation Centre in Southampton due to strong demand from companies for his electrical contracting services.

Luke Tanner spent 11 years in Royal Marines service before incorporating Empire Electrical & Mechanical Solutions in August 2020 at Companies House.

Beforehand, a year’s stint with a company on a building site made him realise his future lay in running a business rather than being employed in one.

Start-up

Luke’s start-up recently got to the point where it outgrew his living room in Southampton because of all the equipment, IT resource and meeting space needed.

The business now has a team of 14, including six staff, with clients including a FTSE 100 company and the British government.

Projects for 20 clients this year including installing wellbeing circadian lighting which follows the human circadian rhythm, a 24-hour internal clock, at offices.

Empire Electrical & Mechanical now has an office at Ocean Village Innovation Centre (OVIC), with plans to flex up in size within the next six months.

Luke expressed his journey into entrepreneurship with confidence.

He said: “I believed in my abilities to outperform my previous employers, leading me to venture out on my own. Three years later, my venture has grown into a robust business with a dedicated team of 14, expanding into mechanical services.

Robust business

“I am dedicated and highly ambitious, with a strong work ethic shaped by my military experience.

“This background has instilled in me a structured and methodical approach to tasks, guided by stringent regulations and systematic planning.

“This disciplined mindset has proven to be a valuable asset in my professional endeavors, particularly in fostering strong relationships with my clients and enhancing my efficiency and reliability in meeting their needs.”

“Many business owners will find this familiar: after establishing a strong reputation, your name begins to circulate widely. Subsequently, you’ll find an increase in project requests arriving via email or even direct visits to your office, which is an incredibly rewarding experience.”

The business has expanded so much, particularly with major office refits through fit-out companies and specialist building contractors, that it has recruited four people this year, including the latest appointment, contracts manager Brett Ashton.

Empire Electrical & Mechanical, which has a second director with Kieron Haines, also draws upon the expertise of a trusted pool of electrical sub-contractors.

Professional look

Scope of work includes design, installation, testing, maintenance, renewable and refurbishment in commercial, industrial, and domestic buildings.

Luke shared his positive experience with relocating his business to OVIC this year. He emphasised the benefits of the professional ambiance, including meeting spaces and reception facilities, which have significantly contributed to his business’s growth.

Luke also appreciates the opportunity to collaborate effectively, highlighted by the ample space available for spreading out large technical drawings, facilitating team discussions.

The presence of “other like-minded entrepreneurs” in the vicinity has been a bonus.

Due to an increasing number of orders, Luke is planning to expand within OVIC to a larger office.

This decision is driven by the convenience and cost-effectiveness of scaling up without needing to move to a different location. He also mentioned the strategic advantage of OVIC’s location for his business operations.

Supportive environment

Stephen Deller, OVIC’s centre manager, said: “Luke’s business growth story is one that many business owners can relate to and an expansion story we are familiar with here – a number of our occupiers started their firms at home before moving in.

“There came a stage this year when, thanks to commercial demand, Empire Electrical & Mechanical Solutions needed to appoint a managerial team; OVIC provides a supportive environment for this kind of well-structured expansion to take place.

“Luke has been saying that there had been an uptick in demand from companies to fit circadian lighting for staff and visitors, showing how seriously employers are taking wellbeing in the workplace.”

Empire has also seen a surge in demand for protection systems to meet new fire regulations, protecting distribution boards from potential fire damage.

With 30,000 sq ft of serviced offices and meeting rooms, and in-house business support, OVIC is run by Oxford Innovation Space on behalf of the building’s private owner.

To find out how your company could benefit from OVIC’s business hub of entrepreneurs and serviced office support, with 67 offices, please contact Stephen on 023 8038 1920 or email s.deller@oxin.co.uk Web: www.oxin.co.uk/ovic

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