The team at the National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC) has won a national business award recognising their outstanding achievements during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The NSBRC, based at J16, Swindon, has won the Employee Ownership (EO) Association’s award for ‘Business Resilience’ having been voted as the winner from a short list of thirteen companies.
The team were invited to submit a written story, as part of a celebration of the exceptional stories of employee owned businesses and the challenges they have faced over the last eighteen months.
Businesses of all sizes wrote about how their focus on their people has supported employee health and wellbeing, helped the business adapt and delivered benefit for multiple stakeholders.
Thousands of votes were cast by the EO Community for their favourites this summer, as part of an EO Stories competition, before the final winners were announced on 17th November during the EOA’s annual conference.
Deb Oxley OBE, Chief Executive of the EOA, said: “We are delighted for NSBRC that their EO story of business resilience was voted for by their peers. It shows how the trust that has been built up in the business, by leveraging the strengths they have developed through being employee owned, supported them to quickly adapt and flex their offer - from being an exhibition venue almost totally reliant on in person activity to seeking out ways to offer customer value digitally."
"The willingness of its employee owners to take on significantly different roles to support the business through this period has clearly resonated those who have voted – we wish the team well with all future opportunities this creates.”
Harvey Fremlin, Managing Director of the NSBRC, said: “As soon as the Prime Minister instructed the nation to ‘stay at home’, we realised the pandemic would have a fundamental impact on our business. It left us with some daunting questions to answer. How could we run a national visitor centre with no visitors(!) and how to do that from our own kitchens or hastily made home-offices?!"
“We had previously taken on the business following a period of adversity, and have made a great success of things in recent years, so I was confident that we would be able to overcome the challenge of the pandemic."
"What I perhaps underestimated was the sheer energy, tenacity and passion that my colleagues displayed to ensure that not only did we survive, but indeed thrived, and we now have new products and an enhanced offering for our visitors and exhibitors. I am absolutely thrilled, on behalf of all the team, to win this award and it is particularly special as it was voted on by our peers”.
The National Self Build & Renovation Centre (NSBRC) is unique, as the UK’s only visitor centre for people who are building, or improving, their own homes.
Since November 2014, the NSBRC has been employee-owned with a ‘hybrid’ ownership model, with all of the team owning shares, some directly and all indirectly through their Employee Ownership Trust.
The number of employee owned businesses in the UK is growing at an annual rate of 10% and interest in employee ownership is thriving. Alongside well-known EO brands such as the John Lewis Partnership and Arup Group, many other household names have recently chosen to make their employees owners, including Aardman Animations, LUSH Cosmetics and Go Ape activity centres.
In 2022, the NSBRC is celebrating 15 years since first opening and the team have ambitious plans to have their busiest ever year. Harvey told us, “We have just launched a brand new website which features fantastic drone footage of the centre as well as more advice and inspiration for our visitors. We know the way we interact with our homes and the energy efficiency of buildings are high on people's radars, and in 2022 we’ll be putting on more events, workshops and courses than ever before to help people build better homes.”