Today we’re talking to Lucie Ashley-Carter of successful grounds maintenance company Jack Kent Services. We ask about how the business started, big challenges and what might lie ahead in the next year.

• You’re a family business, how did you start?

The business started in 1976. Jack had a dream to not answer to anyone else and have his own business with his name on the side of a few vans.

Starting out cleaning offices and picking up jobs that no one else wanted to do, he has grown his business into the largest family-owned Grounds Maintenance and Tree Surgery business in the East Midlands.

• Tell us about your business

We employ 40 people. As the ´One Stop Maintenance Shop´ for a variety of services, Jack Kent Services do the jobs which most other companies cannot deal with. We have vast experience and provide a thorough and professional service to our clients.

Our personnel are experienced, polite and hard-working. All our grounds maintenance operatives are properly trained and insured, hold a CSCS[1] card and are equipped with uniforms and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).

Our customers include local authorities, public utilities, private companies, schools, hotels, many industrial premises and retail parks.

J. A. Kent Services Ltd also incorporates Acer Tree Care and Kent Services Building Maintenance.

Our company maintains its full-time labour force throughout the year, and consequently staff become known to the customers at their regular service visits.

• What has been your biggest success?

The transition from a one-man band to having a turnover of £1.5 million.

• And your biggest challenge?

Organising a service company at a time of rapid growth, economic change and IT involvement.

• Is energy a big cost for you?

No, we operate out of a couple of sites and our utility bills are not a big cost in the scale of our works.

• What do the next 12 months look like for you?

Challenging, but optimistic.

• What advice would you give to other SME businesses?

Follow your dream and never give in. Do what you believe in.

[1]CSCS delivers a scheme for industry that confirms individuals working in the built environment have the necessary training and qualifications. There are a range of CSCS cards to cover most occupations in the construction industry. Your current job, your previous experience and any qualifications you have will determine which type of card you should apply for.

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