Chance meeting opened up new business venture

Business accelerator winner at BB Dyson, Holbeach.'Robert and  Ashley Bulbrook.'Photo (TIM WILSON): SG260112-140TW
Business accelerator winner at BB Dyson, Holbeach.'Robert and Ashley Bulbrook.'Photo (TIM WILSON): SG260112-140TW
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ROBERT Bulbrook hadn’t even got back to his front door when someone pulled up in a car to say they wanted to buy the refurbished vacuum cleaner he had just put out at the front of his house.

“After that we could see there was a clear market for it and we have grown and grown and grown,” says Robert, who is partner with his wife Karen and sons Craig (23) and Ashley (21) in BB Dyson Specialist.

Business accelerator winner at BB Dyson, Holbeach.'Robert and Ashley Bulbrook'Photo (TIM WILSON): SG260112-137TW

Business accelerator winner at BB Dyson, Holbeach.'Robert and Ashley Bulbrook'Photo (TIM WILSON): SG260112-137TW

The family was living in Whaplode and the two boys were struggling to find permanent work when Robert began “tinkering” with secondhand Dysons to bring in a little extra cash. Over the course of the next two years, the number of refurbished Dysons sold outside their home grew to about 20 a week, which kept Craig and Ashley usefully occupied while Robert continued with his full-time job, helping them at weekends.

Their secondhand vacuum cleaners were becoming so popular that by late 2009 Robert took the decision to give up work and the business was moved to their current site, at Unit 1, Station Street, Holbeach, which offers plenty of space for a showroom, workshops and storage space for secondhand cleaners waiting to be repaired.

However, Robert was keen to have official manufacturer backing and so successfully sought to become registered as an independent Dyson dealer so he could sell new machines alongside the refurbished models.

Robert admits: “Business had tripled since we moved here, on service, sales, repairs and parts. I would think we are selling 30 machines a week new and secondhand from the showroom and probably 30 to 40 off the internet.”

That kind of business acumen is what helped BB Dyson Specialist reach the finals of the Businesses Accelerator campaign promoted by local newspapers all over the country and backed by Prime Minister David Cameron and Dragon’s Den star Deborah Meaden. Local winners will receive free advertising with the Spalding Guardian as well as expert mentoring over the same period.

The business helps to tackle an important environmental issue – the amount of waste products going to landfill. BB Dyson Specialist takes old machines in part exchange for new models as well as buying them on the secondary market especially to refurbish and sell in the showroom.

“It may not look like new, but it operates the same as it did when it was new,” says Robert. “Last year we sold something like 2,500 secondhand machines so that is 2,500 Dysons we stopped going to landfill.”

The business has been built on being able to give the right advice to customers and having everything in stock, and Robert says proudly: “We do what nobody else can do, keep everything in stock and advise customers before we start talking about prices, even down to talking about their back or wrist problems.

“The other important thing is when we were in Whaplode I was the only one in the family in full-time employment and the business now employs myself, Karen as office manager, and my two sons, and we are so busy we have taken on Ben Lee who is employed full time in the workshop.

“We have secured the business here and we are now going to secure it further by looking for our next project.”