What do India’s new Formula One track, Holland’s Cellengebouw Norgerhaven prison and Sydney’s Blacktown office block have in common with Birmingham’s New Street Hospital, Heathrow Airport, the O2 Arena and the Houses of Parliament?
The answer is Eurosafe Solutions, the Sheffield firm that started in the back bedroom of a house on Abbeydale Road and today occupies a works on Little London Road, as well as owning Birley Carr-based Safety Fabrications.
Eurosafe specialises in designing, manufacturing and installing roof top access and safety systems.
The firm, founded by former quantity surveyor John Boyle and contracts manager Gavin Ellis in 2000, has grown to become a major player in its field, working on prestigious projects around the world and establishing operations in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.
The business began when John and Gavin – both keen rock climbers in their spare time - saw that health and safety was becoming a major issue for firms with employees working at heights.
“We were finding that health and safety was coming to the fore. Working at heights safety issues were very new in 1999,” says John.
“All the time when you are climbing, you are evaluating risks, although you don’t necessarily think it has an application elsewhere. We decided to set up on our own – but in a niche, not just window cleaning or putting sealants on roofs.”
Back then, the main market was for ladders, and manufacturers hunting for installers soon realised that Eurosafe had the skills they needed. It didn’t take long for Eurosafe, itself, to begin buying and installing ladders.
The major breakthrough for the firm came when several years of hard work paid off and Eurosafe became an installer for Latchways products.
Latchways’ key product, the Transfastener, was invented by an engineer who was a keen yachtsman and lost a friend overboard when he detached his safety harness from a cable to move past a support.
The Transfastener allows someone to negotiate supports without needing to detach the safety harness and, after being redesigned to work with thicker cables, the system was installed on roof tops to protect construction and maintenance workers.
In addition to installing Latchways systems in the UK, Eurosafe has become the biggest installer in Holland, where it also acts as the firm’s distributor.
The Sheffield business didn’t stop there, however.
It next moved into the design and fabrication of what can be complex engineered safety solutions, as well as developing its own walkway and demarcation systems, which indicate safe pathways across roofs.
“We are not the biggest company in the sector, but we are the best at solving problems,” says Gavin Ellis.
“We have the technical ability. That sometimes counts against us, because we have got quite a high overhead. When a simpler job comes along, competitors are cheaper - which is why we look for the more complex jobs.
These days, Eurosafe has the capability to act as consultants and principal contractors as well as manufacturers and installers, and also provides maintenance, inspection and testing services for safety systems.
“We see some big opportunities in that area. Some big portfolio managers are giving us multi-site contracts to test safety systems and offer other services and we tend to find that they level of service we provide is such that we get very good repeat business,” says Gavin.