A County Durham industrial cleaning contractor has its sights set on national expansion after growth fuelled by Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) Incubator Zone EMCON exhibition.
Ferryhill-based Orca Cleaning Services is one of over 50 companies from across County Durham who have taken part in the Incubator Zone since its inception in 2017.
Managed by Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council, DBOP set up the Incubator Zone at the Engineering and Manufacturing Conference (EMCON) at the Xcel Centre on Aycliffe Business Park as an intensive sector specific business support programme.
Aimed at small and micro businesses in the engineering and manufacturing sector across County Durham, the programme prepares businesses to exhibit at a large trade show for the first time, in order to make new contacts and find opportunities to sell their product or service.
The family run business, which specialises in high-performance cleaning services to owners and operators of offices, factories, warehouses and large retail stores throughout the UK, was established in 2016 by husband and wife Steven and Hollie Holmes.
After a successful career in industrial roofing, Steven spotted a gap in the market to provide a higher level of industrial cleaning which would look after buildings and extend their longevity through proper cleaning and care.
Hollie joined in 2016 to manage the business and finance side of the company. Since then, Orca has won a number of public sector industrial cleaning contracts, as well as obtaining high profile industrial cleaning jobs for national clients enabling the business to grow.
The company was contacted by DBOP prior to last year’s EMCON, the region’s biggest engineering and manufacturing conference organised by the Engineering and Manufacturing Network, and as a result it applied to DBOP’s Incubator Zone.
This became the catalyst that led to Orca re-branding its business, as EMCON provided a huge amount of market intelligence and networking opportunities.
Hollie Holmes, commercial director, said: “EMCON was a real eye opener for us, providing us with a great deal of market intelligence. We found that lots of businesses had heard of Orca, but they didn’t perceive our core business as industrial cleaning. Following EMCON we embarked upon a rebranding exercise to reposition the business as a specialist industrial cleaning company, which has opened many doors. We have taken on more clients, contracts and staff to keep up with demand.”
Orca has now booked a larger exhibition space at the next EMCON show, now in March 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sarah Slaven, Business Durham’s interim managing firector, said: “We’re delighted to be able to support businesses like Orca through the DBOP Incubator Zone and the DBOP programme to enable them to access new opportunities. As we enter the recovery phrase from the coronavirus pandemic it is vital we continue to support business through this challenging time and enabling them to find new markets and customers is one of the ways we can do this.
“It is important we provide both practical and financial support to businesses and help them access the help they need to get back on track. By working together, we can create a stronger, thriving, successful and sustainable county which will help boost the economy and protect and create jobs.”
Since EMCON Orca have won several national industrial cleaning contracts beating off competition from established national names. Orca believe the difference is their attention to detail, superior service and competitive pricing.
Guy Bashford, business engagement officer for DBOP said: “Orca have done tremendously well in such a short space of time. They spotted a gap in the market and took the opportunity to offer quality industrial cleaning services at competitive price and are now competing nationally.
“We are delighted that the DBOP Incubator Zone helped Orca develop their business model, the fact that Orca are planning to book a bigger space at the next EMCON show demonstrates the value companies get from taking part in our support programmes.”
It had always been the intention of Orca to offer decontamination services, but when the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, the company adapted their business model to offer deep cleaning services to those that needed it most.
Hollie added: “Being a front-line police officer for eleven years I was acutely aware of the stresses that the coronavirus would bring to front line services and many other businesses. As an organisation, we wanted to give something back in a time of national emergency, we took the quick decision to set up a charitable arm to the business and offer deep cleaning decontamination services to those that needed it most including a number of County Durham care homes, schools and nurseries.”
Over the next few months Orca are looking to increase their employees by taking on an additional seven to eight staff to keep up with demand and support their ambitious plans to grow their business nationally.
Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) is a European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) programme offering business support to SMEs in County Durham. It is a six-year programme and runs until November 2022.