Telford business moving into new distribution centre

Serchem’s Andrew Arnold (left) and Paul Arnold with Dawn Owen from Baldwins Accountants

A Shropshire chemical cleaner manufacturer that was six months off extinction is now growing so fast it needs a new distribution centre.

Serchem, which is based in Arleston, Telford, was on the brink of going out of business when its founder in 1981, Clive Arnold, passed away at the turn of the century.

Without his knowledge of the business, it came close to collapse but has since been turned around by his sons, Paul and Andrew, and, as well as diversifying into new product areas, they are also conquering a series of overseas markets.

It’s turning over in excess of £2 million per annum, employs 18 people and is exporting to the likes of Thailand and Egypt, with overseas sales accounting for around 10 per cent of its income.

So strong is the growth that Serchem needs all of the space at its existing property to manufacture its products, which are sold into the hospitality and healthcare sectors, so it is taking on a new distribution centre in Hortonwood.

The growth, says Paul, could not have been achieved without the support of the firm’s accountants Baldwins Accountants.

He said: “We were on our knees back in 2000 – the bank told us we had six months – so we just needed something to keep the business going.

“I started offering a deep cleaning service just to generate income and for the first time in a long time we generated a profit.

“But that was just a ‘lifeboat’ for the company, we couldn’t build a future on that. Our cleaning products were being used in the hospitality sector but we discovered that they could also be utilised in healthcare.

“The chemicals do no damage to aluminium so that meant they could be used on surgical equipment, which opened up a new market for us. It means we now sell to everyone from Virgin to the NHS.

“I don’t believe we could have done it without the support of Dawn Owen at Baldwins. It’s not just about finances, to me, it’s about people. Dawn has got to know the business over many years and, as well as helping us in various aspects of accounting, she’s been there for me to talk to and to offer an honest viewpoint.”

Dawn, who has been working with Serchem for more than 20 years and is a director at Baldwins Accountants on London Road, Shrewsbury, said it was great to see the company expanding.

She said: “It’s a testament to Paul, Andrew and the team that they are in such a strong position after falling on such difficult times.

“We always look to offer much more than just financial advice, we are here to be a supportive but also, at times, a critical friend in order to make sure the business is operating to its maximum.

“There is the potential for further growth at Serchem and that’s not only great news for the company but also the local economy too.”