Hi, I’m John Savage, managing director of Flame Heating Spares, a North East of England-based heating and plumbing merchant, which I founded in 2011. I was born and bred in the North East of England, having lived in South Shields in my early years, and then, at the age of 17, started my career at one of the national heating and plumbing merchants as an apprentice. Within ten years I had worked my way up to branch management level with another leading company before being employed as group business development manager for a plumbing merchant. At the age of 31, I decided to go it alone and, with the support of one of my former bosses, Gary Riseborough, I established Flame Heating Spares. We started out in humble beginnings with a skeleton staff and a single branch, in Gateshead, before embarking on an aggressive and highly ambitious expansion strategy. Since then, we have launched a total of six branches, with more in the pipeline. By 2020, I am hoping that there will be 20 Flame branches throughout the North East of England, which will more than double our current workforce to in excess of 40 employees too. In addition, I have introduced a number of unique and market leading initiatives and services to our domestic market, including a flue gas analyser lease service, which aids installers by reducing their downtime when their equipment needs to be recalibrated. We also invested in a new boiler hire service, earlier this year, for the public sector, including schools and nursing homes, when their heating fails. For the first five years of operating I have focussed my efforts into establishing the business locally and across the region, followed by, in the last two years, expanding the business. The hope is to one day push the brand out into other regions and then nationally, which would be the ultimate long-term aim. In my own personal capacity, I am a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) and was named its 2016 Young Director of the Year in the North East of England, which, to be honest, came as a complete surprise. Still, I am very honoured to have won the award and am keen to promote the region as a great place to do business, as well as assist others. This is why I am an advocate of apprenticeships and, in my own business, hire apprentices and help them progress up the career ladder. My diary entries will focus on my business journey to date, highlighting the successes I’ve enjoyed, as well as the struggles. I’ll also take you behind the scenes of how we, as a company, are enforcing our expansion plans and the finer details which make it possible, as well as the headaches – at times – that come with it! It is an exciting new chapter for Flame Heating Spares and I’m looking forward.
This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.
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