Business is taking off for ex-RAF man Oli Williams. His new venture, Ollywood, employs mainly ex-Forces staff who design and create imaginative, eye-catching installations and furniture for clients around the UK.
Such is the demand that Oli plans to take on five full time staff in the next three years, employing ex-Forces and creative people where possible, and working with local colleges to create apprenticeships.
Ollywood launched a year ago with the help of a £1500 Business Support Grant funded by Tata Steel subsidiary UKSE and administered by Newport City Council.
“The grant was very helpful and enabled us to buy IT equipment and tools. We really appreciate the support we received,” said Oli.
The business recently moved to larger premises on the Evtol Trading Estate in Newport to cater for growing demand.
As well as commercial work Ollywood has developed and created a range of bespoke, niche furniture which is proving increasingly popular.
The three-year target for turnover is £2 million, and Oli is confident that this can be achieved. The range of domestic and commercial clients such as The Army, Savills, Chepstow Racecourse, award-winning marketing agencies and major retail centres, is increasing, and strong relationships and collaborations are building with exhibition and design companies.
“Our order book is filling rapidly mainly by recommendation from clients,” he said. “We have a name for excellent service, and for the quality and imaginative scope of our work.
“As well as this we can deal with all aspects of a brief, offering custom woodwork, installation, project management, graphics and signage, bringing everything together in a single package.”
Oli, who served in the RAF for seven years in the Falkland Islands and other locations, emphasises the ethos of the armed forces. “In the Forces we developed a lot of skills and a ‘can-do’ attitude and where possible I want to bring in people with this approach,” he commented.
Martin Palmer of UKSE said he was delighted at the success of Ollywood’s first year of trading. “This is a dynamic and confident young business which fits well with the growing creative sector in Wales. The company clearly has ambition and drive and I am very pleased we have been able to provide some essential funding to launch.”
Councillor Jane Mudd, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “it’s great to see a local business doing so well, especially in our blossoming creative industry. I was delighted to hear that Ollywood’s services are in such high demand and that Oli plans to expand his workforce, particularly about his intention to employ ex-service people and create apprenticeships.”