Emkat Solutions Ltd, who specialise in automated materials handling systems, have been at HIC since its early days.
Owner Dave Berridge set the company up back in September 2009, following more than 30 years in the materials handling industry. Dave worked initially as a project engineer, project manager, solutions designer and latterly as a director of an international business. Originally Dave worked from home, investing in the necessary equipment and working long hours to establish the business. But, he says, home and work seemed to merge into one and he decided that it was time to move into a dedicated office.
As luck would have it, HIC had recently opened its doors, and Dave moved into the building in August 2012. “It was a relief to be able to shut the door at the end of the day and forget about work for a bit!” he says. He soon built the business and took on extra staff and became a fixture in the centre.
One of the things about the centre Dave likes most is its communal environment.
“There’s a real sense of community at HIC,” he says. “There are lots of great businesses here and there’s always someone who can help you. Over the years, we’ve called on the services of several other people in the centre.”
The location of the centre is an advantage in Emkat’s line of business. “The Midlands is the heartland of the UK’s engineering industry,” says Dave. This means the company is within easy reach of many of its contacts and is a big help in Dave’s work with his sector’s trade association, which he’s been running for many years.
Managed by Oxford Innovation, the centre is owned and supported by Harborough District Council (HDC). As the building owner, HDC also funds the centre’s business support provision, providing the basis for expert business advice, mentoring and workshops. The cafe also plays a part. It’s a hub for meeting other people, says Dave, and he appreciates the range of food it has on offer: “It’s a good addition to the centre. Time is my most valuable commodity and being able to get coffees and lunch on site is a real help. The cafe is a great attraction to clients, who prefer to meet at the HIC because of the facilities.”
Dave also takes advantage of the meeting facilities on offer. “The presentation of the building is very impressive, very professional,” he says. “I often run events for the trade association here at the centre. It saves us time and money and is very convenient.”
All in all, Dave thinks HIC is a great place for companies to do businesses, particularly smaller organisations looking to grow. “You get lots of extras here, what with all your utilities taken care of and just the flexibility of space and rent arrangements. Even the little things, like not having to buy your coffee and milk, really make a difference, too. That frees you up to concentrate on building your business.”