Since starting business in March 1999, Shade 'N' Sails has been designing, manufacturing, supplying and installing quality shade products for commercial entities and residential properties throughout Ballarat and beyond.
Company directors Neil Glover and Trevor Hocking took a huge risk leaving steady jobs to follow their vision. Neither had a business degree, but relied on a commonsense approach and strong work ethic to build a successful company.
"At the time shade sails were becoming the trend in the Australian marketplace and we decided to give it a go, with a limited business plan," says Trevor. "A few years later we branched out into outdoor blinds and awnings, because of continuing customer requests for these products … (it) seemed like a natural progression to expand our product range."
According to Trevor and Neil there has been no standout moment when the business went gangbusters, but instead, mini achievements have been made, from their first overseas customer, to continually expanding both local and international retailers of their products, and the natural growth that allowed them to employ further staff. Shade ‘N’ Sails boasts a very low staff turnover, a committed team of people of all ages, working together to grow the business, and with a sense of belonging to a company that continues to push boundaries within the industry.
Neil's daughters Kirsten and Brittney are floor manager and office manager respectively, while soon to be son-in-law Daniel works in the blinds department and as an installer. Trevor's brother Murray is the sales manager, while operations manager Lyle Greenwood's son Mark works in the metal fabrication and drafting department. In-house training and continual skill development work to maintain this high staff retention rate, vital for retaining the skills required to produce high quality products.
This advertising feature is sponsored by the following businesses. Click on the links to find out more:
- Shade 'N' Sails
- Ballarat Joinery Supplies
- Challenger United
- Innova International
- Ballarat Bolts & Fasteners
- DL Earthworks
- Ballarat Groundworks
- Ballarat Powder Coating
- Innova International Pty Ltd
- JB Cameron (Victoria) Pty Ltd
- Eureka Concrete
- Drever Signs
- Kingfield Galvanizing
- Miami Stainless P/L
- Nolan Group
- J.T. Dixon Pty Ltd
In the two decades since Shade 'N' Sails began, technological advancements have greatly increased the company's capabilities. Neil notes the computerised plotting and cutting machines that make processes more efficient, an increase in the choice of fabrics, an emphasis on end-of-life recycling, laser technology that assists with marking out shade sails, and greater options to fully customise products for individual needs.
The pair both hope the business continues on the same trajectory, offering their clients the best products available, with customer service that's synonymous with Shade 'N' Sails. Moving into the new custom-built manufacturing facility in the near future will provide the company with the room to accommodate this growth.
In recent years Shade ‘N’ Sails has outgrown its 1050 square metre facility, limiting scale and growth opportunities to take on larger scale projects. Within the next two years, the company plans to expand and move into a state-of-the-art, purpose-built manufacturing plant, office and showroom space in Wendouree.
Land was purchased a year ago in the same industrial precinct as the current factory, with plans to build a facility that can double capacity, increase capability to take on larger and more complex projects, and allow for a greater indoor and outdoor showroom to showcase new shade and waterproof solutions.
The expansion will allow Shade ‘N’ Sails to grow as the market demand for its products increases, and allow the team to innovate as new opportunities and production partners present themselves.