When the scaffolding firm that Robert West worked for withdrew from the London market in 1995, it led to the birth of a successful new enterprise. West joined forces with two friends, using £25,000 of redundancy money to set up Benchmark Scaffolding. The company was initially run from West’s home before he rented a small yard and offices over a video shop. West’s biggest challenge at the outset was to establish a reputation for reliability and safety. It was only after the company had proved itself with a few large projects that business really took off. Contracts to supply scaffolding for St Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight and for Milton Keynes’s new Midsummer Place shopping centre each contributed £1m to company coffers. Sales have increased by 69% a year, from £881,000 in 1996 to £4.2m in 1999. The company recently set up a branch in Barnsley, Yorkshire.
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