A Newcastle firm has transformed itself from a “rough and ready” reclaimed timber yard into a company with a changing customer base, new products and improving profits.

Quay Timber, of Byker, recorded a 21% growth in profits and turnover for the financial year ending July 2003, following a period of staff training, site improvements and computerisation.

Before implementing the changes, the company experienced seasonal business, with dramatically declining sales between October and February, resulting in lay-offs and low staff morale.

Now, achievements include ISO 9001 accreditation, a new computer system integrating stock control, customer relationship management and accounts, the Investors in People standard and participation in the EQ8 training programme. Site improvements have included a resurfaced yard, a rebuilt sales counter and new signage.

The company, which has invested about £100,000 in the past four years, said training was especially important after its expansion 12 months ago into hardwood flooring, an area contributing heavily to profits.

&#8220It’s been hard work, and a major learning curve, but the business is fitter, leaner and more profitable”

Managing director Mark Fawcett

An in-house training scheme was developed and delivered with North Tyneside College. Staff worked towards NVQ Level 2 training in customer service and team leadership.

The customer base is changing from being almost exclusively male and largely jobbing builders to a growing number of retail customers, including a high proportion of women.

Managing director Mark Fawcett said: “It’s been hard work, and a major learning curve, but the business is fitter, leaner and more profitable, and the team is motivated and benefiting from the investment that has been made in their development.

“The introduction of hardwood flooring has changed the business’s profile and has reduced the seasonality of the turnover. We’re looking forward with confidence to a prosperous future.”