As featured in this months Wear Business, Business Durham’s business engagement and account manager, Guy Bashford, looks back over his career providing business support and forward at how his new role is helping businesses grow and thrive in County Durham.
What job roles did you have before joining Business Durham?
My career background has given me a strong foundation for my current role at Business Durham. For nearly two decades, I have held various business support positions, mainly offering advice and support for businesses on resource efficiency. I have advised entrepreneurs and businesses on a broad range of issues, from finance to business strategy, helping identify market opportunities to improving environmental performance. These previous roles have given me a deep understanding of the challenges that businesses face and the importance of having the right support in place to help them thrive. At Business Durham, I bring this wealth of experience to bear as I work to support the growth and success of local businesses.
When did you join Business Durham? What was your first role there?
I have been with Business Durham for seven years, my first role was as a business engagement officer working specifically on the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP). The programme helped local SMEs to identify and access market opportunities and to connect with business support initiatives.
Through DBOP, we were able to help local businesses access procurement opportunities, not only with Durham County Council but also with other organisations such as Kier Construction and Believe Housing. Working with SMEs who had not previously engaged with business support initiatives was especially rewarding.
What’s your new role and how does it differ from your previous role?
I recently took on the role of business engagement and account manager for the East Durham area. It covers the same area but involves working with the larger business clients in the area. Generally the issues they face are more complex and require more in-depth long-term relationships to help them on their growth journey. This support is varied; one day I could be helping a company to identify new markets, and the next I could be supporting a business to access opportunities to train or upskill their workforce. One of my key responsibilities is to assist businesses in their net zero journey by promoting sustainable practices and helping them find practical ways to reduce their carbon footprint. I work with the council’s Low Carbon Team to develop practical energy efficiency guides that offer tangible solutions to common environmental challenges. We help companies understand how they can lower their energy bills, we provide guidance on renewable energy solutions, and help them identify the market and tendering opportunities that Net Zero brings.
How has your support helped businesses in East Durham? Any success stories?
Plenty! We’ve been able to help several businesses in East Durham achieve significant growth and success with our tailored support. One of our success stories is Bishops Beds, a family-owned business in Peterlee, whom we assisted with various bid writing projects that resulted in several contract wins worth millions of pounds. Another business we supported is Central Doorset Manufacturing, also in Peterlee. They needed additional funding to expand their door-making business, and we identified suitable grants, including money from the County Durham Growth Fund. This funding allowed them to increase staff numbers seven-fold, from five to 35, and grow exponentially. We take pride in being part of our clients’ growth journey, and it’s rewarding to see their businesses thrive. Clear Climate is an excellent example of a business we have been able to help. Initially focused on providing air conditioning solutions for new-build properties, they’ve now diversified to offer renewable energy solutions. We identified revenue-generating opportunities that aligned with their net zero goals, such as offering training to businesses on the installation and use of air source heat pumps, which have enabled them to expand their services and contribute positively to the environment.
What are the benefits of being based in the east of the county?
East Durham offers a wealth of benefits for businesses, starting with its excellent connectivity. With strong transport links via road, rail, sea, and air, businesses based here can easily access local, national, and international markets. Moreover, the area boasts a diverse range of commercial properties to choose from, making it easier for businesses to find a location that suits their specific needs. Another advantage of being based in East Durham is the availability of a highly skilled workforce. Our colleges and universities provide a steady stream of talented graduates and skilled workers for businesses to tap into. East Durham also has a thriving business community, and the East Durham Business Network provides an excellent opportunity for companies to connect and collaborate with like-minded peers. By participating in this network, businesses can expand their reach, share ideas and products, and access new markets. Finally, East Durham is undergoing significant regeneration, attracting both residents and businesses to the area. As a result, businesses can benefit from an increasingly vibrant and dynamic local economy, with plenty of opportunities for growth and expansion.
How can businesses benefit from your work and the work of Business Durham?
At Business Durham, we offer impartial and professional support to businesses to help them reach their goals faster. We have the expertise to identify potential issues, challenges, and opportunities that businesses may not have considered before. We’re impartial, professional, and responsive. Our goal is to advise, support, and guide businesses on their growth journey. By working with us, businesses can access the knowledge and resources they need to succeed and don’t have to navigate the business landscape alone. Our extensive network and partnerships allow us to connect businesses with relevant industry experts, funding opportunities, training programs, and collaborative initiatives. Whether it’s accessing funding, expanding into new markets, implementing sustainable practices, or developing innovative strategies, we provide tailored support and guidance to help businesses thrive in East Durham.