Gill Heleine, Manzana Contracts
Miranda Dobson

Member Article

Behind the Business with Manzana Contracts

Manzana Contracts is a Yorkshire based manufacturer run by husband and wife pairing Gill and Chris Heleine. They have been cited by The Guardian newspaper as “perfectionists” and by Grand Designs’ presenter Kevin McCloud as “Mr Millimeter Perfect”, the couple have a reputation for exactness in their work. Bdaily spoke to Gill Heleine to find out what the business has been up to.

Tell Bdaily readers a little about your company.

“Manzana is a new company having only registered in January 2012 and not trading until later last year. We are specialists in joinery and metalwork, and work with a range of businesses in the construction industry. Me and my partner were retired and came back to work after living in Menorca for 7 years, when we came back to set up in business.

“We are both in our fifties and, I won’t lie, we came back because we felt we could earn more money investing in ourselves rather than relying on interest in the banks and to give something back with our experience.

“We found that living abroad makes you more patriotic, especially to the Yorkshire area. I became more Yorkshire living abroad than at home!”

What key challenges has your company recently faced?

“We found it extremely hard to set up trading. We got nothing from the banks and struggled opening trade accounts to run a business.

“Fortunately for us, some remembered us from old and took the gamble to trade with us. We couldn’t even get finance for a van.

“We felt stifled and wondered whether we would get our company off the ground. I have to say it was only through sheer determination that stopped us throwing the towel in and saying, “Let’s go back to Menorca!”

What has been your biggest achievement in the past 12 months?

“I think the biggest achievement for us is creating 11 new jobs. Not only that but we have a superb team who bought into our vision of where the company is going.

“They work together as a team and we will all share the good times along with the bad.”

If you had to advise someone just starting out in business, or someone currently operating within your industry sector, what would it be?

“My advice with regards to someone coming into manufacturing and the construction sector would be not to live for yesterday when times were good.

“That is in the past and it’s not about what you can make, it’s about how much you can save to survive.”

What is your view of the current landscape of business and where does Manzana sit within it?

“Personally, and I’m an optimistic person, I think this year is going to be a stop and start or up and down whichever way you look at it.

“It will not be consistent and it will be hard to try and even that out for the work force. We have to adapt to the changes and think of new ideas for the new challenges ahead. We’re expecting a hard year ahead.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Miranda Dobson .

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