A woodland management business which has tripled in size over the past six years is proving it is a cut above the rest with the rapid growth of its firewood enterprise – thanks to a council grant.
Denbigh-based Bodfari Environmental has seen turnover increase by 300 per cent since brother and sister team, Alan and Helen Waterfield, took over their father Rod’s business when he retired six years ago.
The business, which offers a range of diverse services from woodland management, environmental contracting, grounds maintenance and landscape work as well as craft workshops and a small caravan and campsite, has seen demand for its seasoned hardwood soar since wood-burning stoves became a popular addition to people’s homes.
Unable to cover the full cost of the new machinery needed to keep up with demand, the firm applied to Denbighshire County Council for a 50 per cent business grant and received £2,897 towards a new high-volume firewood processor.
The new addition, which has helped the business to increase its order capacity thus boosting profits, has gone into use immediately in time for the 2016/17 winter season.
Rod said: “It’s a growing market and more and more people are installing wood burners in their homes. Demand for seasoned firewood has soared.
“The business has access to a lot of timber from our other operations so it’s a natural progression for us. We’ve been selling firewood on a small scale for a number of years but with the increased demand out there we needed to be able to handle a higher volume of stock and process it more efficiently.
“We had a genuine need for the machinery and found the business grant application process very straight forward. The county council was very helpful throughout.
“Without the council’s help we wouldn’t have been able to afford the machine at this stage. The grant allowed us to go ahead immediately while the demand was already there rather than wait a year.”
Rod, a former headteacher, said the company had grown rapidly since Alan, 38, from Denbigh, and Helen, 33, from Tremeirchion, had come on-board. As well as increasing turnover, the business partners have increased the workforce from two to five people, boosting the rural economy in Denbighshire.
The company now manages several local woodlands, giving advice and carrying out tree and hedge planting, hedge laying, thinning and felling.
Its environmental contracting work sees the rural business working alongside Natural Resources Wales, the North Wales Wildlife Trust, local authorities and private landowners to protect wildlife habitats and boost wildlife populations.
The company’s landscape business has been recently involved with the restoration of the Grade II listed Lord’s Garden in Ruthin, allotments in Rhyl and Prestatyn and a number of outdoor education areas in local primary schools.
Meanwhile, the company’s grounds maintenance arm oversees the grounds of several local primary schools, Denbigh and Rhyl rugby clubs, numerous village playgrounds and local cemeteries.
“It’s absolutely critical that rural businesses are able to support their local economy by creating jobs,” said Rod, who is also helping to revive interest in charcoal as a clean and green fuel through the company’s charcoal production plant.
“Alan and Helen are the next generation and they’re doing very well, driving the business forward. I’m delighted they’ve continued to develop and expand. The expansion of the business has required significant investment from the partners in new machinery so the grant has been vital to moving forward.
“We’re growing quickly and it’s testament to the quality of our work. If you provide high-quality work, people will come back to you and you win secure those coveted contracts.”
Kirsty Davies, Business Support and Networking Officer for Denbighshire County Council, said: “We’re delighted to be in a position to help Bodfari Environmental advance its firewood operation, increase its competitiveness and take advantage of current trends to boost profitability.
“This forward-thinking firm is not only protecting rural traditions and craftsmanship but investing in the future of local people, providing new jobs and safeguarding the countryside and rural habitats for future generations.
“Our business grant scheme provides businesses with a smoother journey to expansion, increasing access to vital equipment and resources that help firms to improve effectiveness and efficiency.
“Growth is vital to the health and welfare of our rural communities and we’re incredibly proud to help our rural businesses turn their ambitious plans into reality.”
To find out how to apply for a Business Development Grant go to Denbighshire.gov.uk/business or call 01824 706896.