An entrepreneurial family-run business is cleaning up in Warwickshire after securing funding to extend its services.
Bear Cleaning was launched by former Warwickshire police officer Ted Hunter and his wife, Kate, who was a social worker, in Kenilworth in 2017.
The exterior cleaning business focuses on cleaning roofs, driveways, patios, gutters and wheelie bins for domestic properties in Warwick district, Southam, Cawston and parts of Coventry. They also provide jet washing, gutter clearance, steam cleaning and bin cleaning for the commercial sector in Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
Ted spotted an opportunity to complement the existing collection services provided by district and borough councils and increase the range of options for collection for customers.
After meeting Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Chair Sarah Windrum through a peer-to-peer networking programme, she put Kate in touch with the CWLEP Growth Hub, who advised her to talk to the team at the Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust (CWRT).
They recommended Bear Cleaning should apply to the Duplex Investment Fund, which is a combined grant and loan initiative jointly managed by CWLEP, CWRT, Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council.
The project is being funded by £3.9 million of grants from the Government’s Local Growth Fund and the Growing Places Fund, distributed and managed by CWLEP. Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council have both invested a further £2 million in the scheme managed by CWRT.
Kate successfully applied for a £41,500 loan and £16,600 grant from the Coventry and Warwickshire wide scheme to buy a 3.5 tonne truck to deliver the new service from Bear Cleaning in Warwick and Stratford-upon-Avon.
She said: “It was great to meet Sarah Windrum and she was really encouraging about our plans for the business.
“We have three members of staff and we are currently recruiting for a fourth because we are really busy and want to continue growing because we have loads of enquiries coming in and we have built some great relationships with our clients.
“Ted spotted a gap in the market for householders who may want more regular collections. I carried out a lot of detailed market research and realised we needed to buy a small truck – similar to the type you see with a cage picking up litter bags in parks – so I got in touch with the Growth Hub and then CWRT to apply for the Duplex Investment Fund.
“We now have our new vehicle and we’re ready to go. There was a lot of information and due diligence required but it really helped to formalise our business plans and we are really grateful to have received this valuable funding.”
Martin Nwangwa, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said: “The Growth Hub provides support to businesses throughout our region no matter their size or sector and part of that work involves giving information on accessing funding and grants.
“Bear Cleaning is a great example of a family-run entrepreneurial business which prides itself on providing a quality service and has built a fantastic company despite having no previous experience in the sector.”
Alexander Vill, of CWRT, added: “Bear Cleaning’s submission was one of the most comprehensive we have received for the Duplex Investment Fund and Kate had certainly carried out in-depth market research including the Environment Act which became law last year.
“Recycling and disposing of waste responsibly are really important and buying the truck will enable the business to take their firm to the next level.”
Sarah Windrum, Chair at CWLEP, added: “When I met Kate, I was struck by her enthusiasm and it was clear there was a great deal of potential for growth.
“One of the main objectives of CWLEP is to boost our area’s economy which means creating the right environment for innovation and enterprise to flourish, and Bear Cleaning highlights that.”
Cllr Kam Kaur, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place at Warwickshire County Council and CWLEP board director, said: “The County Council is involved in a suite of funding streams to suit the requirements of the diverse range of businesses in the county. Duplex, which has now administered over £1m of loans was ideal in this scenario and I am delighted that another Warwickshire business has benefitted, with an increased choice being made available for the county’s residents.”