An ex-Merchant Navy engineer is cleaning up after making a sweeping change to his career.
Nik Atkinson set up Sweeps and Stoves in September 2012 to provide chimney sweeping, chimney and stove maintenance, and installation services across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, and parts of County Durham.
And after recent one-to-one support from Business Northumberland, Nik is extending his customer base.
Nik, of Hartford Bridge, Bedlington, spent 28 years in the Merchant Navy before deciding to set up on his own after friends had successfully grown their own businesses.
“There is a huge surge in popularity in open fires and stoves at the moment, and I spotted a market niche,” he said.
“Although there are many operators installing them, there seemed a real lack of properly qualified and professional aftersales and maintenance. It is obviously essential to keep stoves and chimneys properly maintained so that is what I decided to do.”
Nik spent nearly a year planning the business, getting the right licences, accreditations and equipment, getting support from Business Northumberland to prepare a three-year business plan while employing a marketing company to develop a logo and design his website.
Business Northumberland – jointly funded by Arch, The Northumberland Development Company, Northumberland County Council and the European Regional Development Fund – offers established and start-up businesses free support in reaching their full growth potential.
Nik, now looking at potentially employing people to set up additional mobile units to meet demand, said: “Basically after one year we have got to where we thought we’d be after three years, so we are re-planning.”
He joked: “I’d like Sweeps and Stoves to become the Kwik-fit of the stove market.”