A South Yorkshire firm is bucking the economic downturn by literally appealing to all the senses.
design, manufacture and install multi-sensory equipment in schools, nursing homes, hospices, hospitals, daycare centres – and even private homes. It is one of the top three suppliers in the country and recently invested more than £50,000 in new machinery and is forecasting a 20 per cent increase in turnover in the next 12 months.
The company, based in Barnsley, has taken on four new staff since the beginning of the year, bringing the total number to 16, and has launched new portable versions of the equipment, including the Sensory Express in the shape of a train.
Set up in 2006 the company, which is being helped by business support programme Enterprising Barnsley
, moved to bigger premises at Park Springs last year, where it now designs and builds the equipment.
Products include bubble tubes, fibre optics, projectors, and equipment for softplay areas, sensory gardens and multi-sensory pools; much of it controlled wirelessly by the user.
The equipment is helpful for children and adults with a range of conditions, including sensory loss, behavioural problems and dementia.
Gareth Jones, managing director, said: “People may have one sense impaired, but the others can balance that out. And seeing something as simple as someone who struggles to do much for themselves being able to change the colour of the bubble tube is uplifting and humbling at the same time.”
Sales come through word of mouth, the website and from exhibitions, with the biggest customer base being schools. That’s an area that has been hit by public spending cuts, but other areas are growing.
For example a dental surgery in Derbyshire has ordered three projectors that will show relaxing images on the ceiling and more families are buying the portable equipment for use at home. Exports are growing too, with customers around the world in countries including Canada, USA, Australia, Denmark and Thailand.
Gareth said the new portable equipment was proving very popular. “The Sensory Express and the portable trolleys we have introduced mean the equipment can be brought to the user; you don’t have to take the user to the product.
“The equipment is also obviously much smaller and can be packed away and that is particularly useful in nursing homes or private homes.”
The company has been helped by Enterprising Barnsley Programme which is supported financially by the European Union. The programme has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.
“Enterprising Barnsley has helped us streamline our accounting and put us in touch with local suppliers. They really have been incredibly helpful,” said Gareth.
“Our philosophy to weather the financial storms is to keep developing new, exciting and meaningful products.
“The forthcoming introduction on our app allowing users to control our equipment remotely by iphone/ipad/itouch will be a great addition to our range and the first of its kind in our market.”
Notes to News Editors
Photographs of equipment are available on request from Kate Betts or from Experia.
The Enterprising Barnsley programme is a partnership between Barnsley Development Agency (BDA) and Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre (BBIC).