Stuart Cooper and Shane Weston, owners of Cooper Weston Electrical Contractors, reﬂect on the past four years. From small beginnings as a local domestic electrician, to huge commercial projects including Battersea and Sloane Square renovations.
What made you want to extend into commercial from the domestic market?
Having worked solely on domestic projects in our hometown in Sussex from 2011, we keenly progressed into the commercial market a year later.
As the company and reputation grew, it was a natural progression to move into bigger, commercial and industrial work. We really enjoy the versatility and pressure that this market throws at us; it deﬁnitely keeps us on our toes!
How did you get into the commercial market?
Our break into the commercial market was a dramatic one. We are honoured to have worked on a number of challenging projects including ongoing works at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
Another turning point for us, and a step in the right direction was working on the complete ﬁtting of an electrical system at a multimillion pound mansion in Sloane Square. We also provided an electrical ﬁt in a refurbished church in Covent Garden and have worked in education establishments around London, such as Francis King Private School.
How did you get your larger contracts?
We mainly got these through word of mouth and reputation. We are ﬁrm believers that if you carry out a good and thorough job, word will naturally spread. We have met a number of our contacts through domestic environments.
We fulﬁlled a job in Sussex and the builder’s brother just so happened to be a facilities manager for three language schools in London. Through his recommendation led us to providing all electrical contract work for the schools which kick-started our journey.
What project/s have you been most pleased with and why?
The work on a home cinema in a 16th Century oak barn in West Sussex was a particularly interesting one. The end result was absolutely stunning and has featured in magazines. This helped build a long-term relationship with the client and led us to renovate his house in Sloane Square that we spoke about earlier.
Battersea has been a great achievement for us. We were given the chance back in October 2013, following a recommendation to complete work at the iconic Dogs & Cats Home. Of course we jumped at the chance, and we are still assisting with them at present, two years later.
What have you been working on at Battersea?
We are working alongside the £20 million+ new development that’s underway.
We’ve been assisting in the design and implementation of the core ﬁbre infrastructure across all three sites. We have also installed CAT6 data cabling throughout the main London site to upgrade and improve the network infrastructure.
We are currently assisting in the design of the network for a new seven-storey building due to be completed in this year.
An initial challenge we found was the sheer size of the design scale. We were working on a much greater level, compared to previous domestic projects we had undertaken and had many more people to run things by and things to consider.
What challenges have you faced as a business and how did you overcome them?
One of our main challenges was probably coping with the rapid growth of the company and how we brought staff in to cope with it. We utilised the apprenticeship scheme to give young people a chance to both join us and learn the trade and this in turn, helped us grow. We highly recommend this to other electrical companies!
We currently have two apprentices working alongside us. One of the lads is just finishing his apprenticeship and we will be keeping him on. It was very important for us to hire apprentices as we remember what it was like to be starting out and it’s great to give people the chance.
Both myself and Shane were apprentices, so this was always going to be something close to us that we wanted to get involved in. Our apprentices get stuck in and we like to think we provide them with a broad knowledge of the industry.
What would be your dream project to work on?
That’s a tough one. We’d love to work on a new build hospital if the opportunity arose. Apart from the obvious in assisting with the healthcare industry, this would likely present interesting challenges.
Your advice to other electricians looking to break into the commercial market would be…
Reputation is key and you cannot build a positive reputation without hard work. Without putting that bit of extra effort in, it’s so hard to compete in such a competitive market.
Being friendly, clean and polite goes further than you think! Believe it or not we have had a number of clients actually emailing us to let us know how considerate, efficient and clean we were (not us personally, I’m guessing they meant the tidying up after).
We are completely honest with our clients and focus on a no nonsense approach. Reliability, honesty and hard work has been vital in the development of the company and how far we have come.