Bright future as Doncaster lighting firm looks to expand and take on more staff
Little over three years ago, brothers Jake, Drew and Luke Midgley were making their own way in their different jobs.
But today they are working together in a family business which has grown and expanded since youngest brother Jake decided to set up his own firm manufacturing lights.
Wrapped up in their winter clothes, the three turn their hand to creating custom built products from their site on Bankwood Industrial Estate in Rossington.
There is no heating in the factory and warehouse where they operate, but the three keep busy, and make sure they keep warm as they put together orders and assemble their lights from the components stored in their warehouse.
The three, all originally from Balby, went their own ways after they left McAuley School. Oldest brother Luke, aged 36, got a job in retail, working at Wickes in the borough. Middle brother Drew was working for South Yorkshire Passenget Transport Executive in marketing. The youngest, the practically-minded Jake, turned his hand to a business degree, before embarking on a plan do do-up a house.
While carrying out the work, he found himself unable to get the sort of lights he wanted. His solution was to collect together the components he needed to built his own.
That done, he decided he had spotted a gap in the market and set his heart on creating his own company providing the customised lights.
Initally, he signed up Luke to join him, deciding it was more than he could do on his own. Then, as the order book grew, he signed up Drew to join, initially part time, but since the start of the year as a full time third partner in the business.
They called their firm Vendimia Lighting, from the Spanish word for vintage, which is how they see the style of their products.
They have components in around 40 different colours. They can put the components together in different configurations, leading a a wide range of different products. They describe their most popular product as a plug-in pendant lamp, which with a stand can be turned into a desk lamp.
The brothers can assemble one of their products in around a couple of minutes on their production line.
Since they first started, they have gone on to have their lights snapped up by people creating their own dream homes on the television show Grand Designs.
Drew, who took charge of the website and internet sales, said: "Jake has always been very hands on, and practical, and did a lot of DIY. He saw a light in a restaurant that he wanted in his house, but he couldn't find anywhere where he could get one. That's why he decided to make his own.
"He looked for premises and got a number of suppliers for the components. We started up online and that is where 99 per cent of the customers come from. The more you sell online, the more feedback you get and the more customers you get. We've got about 5,000 product reviews on our Ebay shop. It has just snowballed.
"The look our lamps have is very popular. We call it vintage-inspired. They are exposed filament bulbs with a fablic flex, the sort of thing you see in trendy bars and restaurants."
The brothers initially started off with a 1,000 square foot unit, but after a year they had to expand into the unit next door, with another 500 square feet.
Now they are again looking for more space. Jake would like more warehouse room, and would ideally like to open a trade counter. Other businesses are now among their customers. But he believes any more expansion would see them taking on more staff.
Other expansion plans would potentially see the brand start to appear on shop shelves. At present they work only on web orders, although customers have travelled from as far afield as Northumberland to pick up their lights.
Vendimia has benefited from the opening of the FARRRS airport link road, which now joins Rossington to the M18. It means customers can find them quickly and easily from the motorway, without having to go through Doncaster and drive in through Cantley and Bessacarr.
They are currently taking advice from business advisors at Doncaster Council over the possibility of linking up with retailers. They are working on their packaging in order to move a stage closer that that dream.
"We'd like to get into the position where we can contact the big retailers," said Jake. "It is certainly one of our ambitions to become a high street name.
"We will certainly have to expand our premises again in the future."