Rising Stars
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Archaeological technology firm eye growth

Thornton-based GSB Prospection is set to increase turnover by 100% thanks to support from Bradford’s growth programme Rising Stars.

The company has grown to a team of 12 with a projected half a million pound turnover for 2013 and is now part of national survey delivery network following three years of guidance from Rising Stars, a growth programme which is jointly delivered by Bradford Council and the Bradford Chamber of Commerce.

Established in 1986, GSB Prospection specialises in archaeological geophysics and examines the ground for hidden and historic sites before major developments such as new housing, solar or wind farms and highways begin.

With 80% of clients in the housing and development sector, managing director John Gater said Rising Stars offered a “big boost” to the business three years ago when the recession really took hold.

John explained: “Organisations have gradually become more environmentally aware and combined with the Government’s demands on developers to survey land ahead of the build process, we were in real demand until about five years ago.

“Because we are reliant on an economy that promotes building and developing, when building work stopped, the need for our services and our staff reduced. Cash flow became so tight that we minimised our expenditure and it started to feel like we were going backwards.”

In 2011 Bradford Chamber put John in touch with Rising Stars and adviser Phil Harrison who audited GSB Prospection and explored ways of managing the recession and preparing for the upturn.

John continued: “Phil suggested ways of developing our services so we weren’t reliant entirely on the archaeological remit and he pointed us towards funding outlets that would help with new equipment, advertising and staff training.

“We knew the economy would improve and we needed to be in a position to have the right personnel and equipment to deal with the shift when it came. Getting funding from the banks was impossible but with Rising Stars’ guidance, I accessed around £10k which gave me the confidence to employ two more people, advertise, invest in new survey equipment and prepare for the future.”

GSB has now doubled income and broadened its offering to include utilities detection. With Rising Stars support the team also managed the disruption to cash flow following the end of a 20-year relationship with Time Team, Channel 4’s archaeological programme which ceased production in 2012. John is best known in the public arena as the show’s presenter of the ‘Geofizz’, working alongside Tony Robinson and TV archaeologists.

John adds: “Phil and the Rising Stars team had the perspective I just didn’t have and when our fortunes changed I needed business experts to guide us through the storm.”

In 2012 GSB became part of the SUMO Services group which has bases in Southampton, Cornwall and the Midlands and operates a network of survey delivery across the UK.

“Our diversification into the utilities detection helped secure our partnership with SUMO and is our future proof plan if the climate declines again. Working in isolation in business can be lonely and stressful but through the support of Rising Stars we got the boost we needed to survive and now thrive into the future.”

Carolyn Coleman, business services manager at Rising Stars, said: “GSB Prospection has turned a corner and secured a more stable future by broadening its offering and investing in new equipment and staff.

“Making important business decisions in an unstable climate can be difficult but with the right advice and access to funding, Rising Stars works to make the process achievable, enjoyable and ultimately profitable for the business concerned.”

Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, executive member for Employment, Skills and Culture, added: “This is an incredibly exciting business from a specialist sector which I’m pleased we’ve been able to nurture in Bradford. I am delighted that by working with Rising Stars, GSB Prospection has stabilised, grown and is now looking forward to a secure and more diverse future.”

For further information about Rising Stars and the Council’s Business and Enterprise Programme visit www.rising-stars.biz.

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