The world of bathroom adaptations has changed dramatically in past two decades says Easibathe’s MD
The world of bathroom adaptations has changed dramatically in past two decades says Easibathe’s MD

Longevity is no easi feat

Running a successful business is not easy, a fact that any business owner will gladly attest to. It is therefore important that when a company reaches a milestone as impressive as 20 years in business, the achievement is celebrated for the feat that it is. One such company to reach this praiseworthy anniversary is Easibathe, a manufacturer, installer and seller of affordable bespoke bathing solutions. Founded by owner Martin Cook, the company has seen the market change considerably over the years. THIIS caught up with Nigel Heath, Easibathe’s Managing Director, to discover how the North East company has managed to weather some of the storms of the last two decades whilst continuing to attain growth.

Spotting a gap in the market

Having worked in the bathroom industry for many years with varying degrees of success given the high level of competition within the sector, Martin Cook spotted a gap in the saturated market for specialist bathroom adaptations and associated equipment in the mid-90s.

Deciding to turn his attention to this relatively niche area of the market, Martin took the first step in a journey that would define his working life for the next two decades to follow.

It was not long after focusing his time and efforts into bathroom adaptations that he secured a contract with a local authority to provide shower cubicles and level access shower areas, providing the springboard to the creation of Easitbathe Ltd as it is today.

Recognising significant potential in this area, and the fact that the business was quickly outgrowing the small back lane unit it occupied, Martin persuaded his wife Denise to take the plunge and move the business to a unit on the other side of Newcastle, with enough space to cater for future expansion.

Working for a local newspaper at the time, Denise soon joined her husband in the business, taking on the role of Company Secretary – a role she continues to hold to this day – and on the 24th March 1999, Easibathe was incorporated and opened its doors to the public on the 19th April of the same year.

Adopting the mission statement “Providing Solutions to Independence”, Managing Director Nigel Heath says it is an ethos that is still at the heart of the company through the products and services it provides.

Easiaccess' Martin & Denise with team shot
The husband and wife team have long supported each other with the business endeavour, a cornerstone of Easibathe’s enduring success

Strength to strength

Reflecting on Martin’s motivation to go down the entrepreneurial path, Nigel told THIIS: “Martin has always been an ideas man and is willing to take a risk, combined with a desire to be his own boss, he was always destined to either be self-employed or to run his own company from an early age, supported by his wife and family.”

Over the first few years, Martin broadened the company’s offering to also include access products, creating a new division to specifically focus on this area – Easiaccess.

Martin’s move to the new site in 1999 proved to be a masterstroke, with Easibathe completing its first large extension four years later, adding additional office and warehouse space as the business continued to grow.

Two years later the expansion continued, adding comprehensive warehousing facilities to the site in 2006, to allow it to meet the logistical demands for its customers managing inventories or supply chain.

At the same time, Martin decided to invest in the creation of a new ramp system, redesigning this from the ground up to be compliant with the latest accessibility regulations. In 2008, the company launched its award-winning metal modular ramp system, growing year on year since and now installed across the UK.

Surviving and thriving over the years

For many companies, reaching 20 successful years in business can prove to be an elusive accomplishment, fraught with unforeseen challenges, new competition, and problems at every turn.

Discussing what has enabled the bathing and access specialists to remain in business for so many years, Nigel explained: “A never give up attitude and glass-half-full approach to the trials and tribulations of running your own business has seen Easibathe and Easiaccess through many ups and downs.

“Most importantly though, Martin and Denise have always tried to look after their employees, recognising that they play a central role in the development and success of the business. The management team are long serving, very experienced and trusted to run the business effectively, which has enabled the year on year growth experienced since its inception.”

Easiaccess and Easibathe Staff Photo
Nigel says the strength of the company’s dedicated team has helped the company weather some of the storms of the past 20 years

This approach of enduring optimism combined with a competent management team has allowed the company to continuously compete in the ever-changing world of adaptations, with a market that has seen its fair share of new entrants and changing customer desires.

“The world of adaptations has changed dramatically over the 20 years since Easibathe Ltd was created,” commented Nigel.

“There are now a number of different businesses within this sector and the product offering has continuously evolved – gone are the days when adaptations were decidedly clinical in their appearance; many solutions are now created with both functionality and design aesthetic in mind. Wet floor rooms, for example, are highly popular, being installed in an increasing number of homes, over a traditional bath or shower tray.

“Not only do these solutions look very modern but they provide longer-term suitability for people given their ‘inclusive’ design.”

Responding to the change in customers’ demands for products that look as good as they perform, Easibathe recently launched its Premier Range of specialist bathing products, which it says provides a high-end look and feel which customers now expect.

The ups and downs

Having been operating for two decades, the company has seen its fair share of good and bad times, Nigel recounted one of the toughest periods of Easibathe’s history.

“Over the last 20 years, one of the biggest challenges faced was the period around the time of the financial crisis in 2008, when budget constraints had a direct impact in local authority spending and the construction industry contracted significantly,” he remembered.

“Our order book dropped by almost 80 percent within the space of a handful of months, but with sheer determination and exploiting all sales and installation opportunities, we were able to weather the storm and consolidate our position.”

Despite the difficult times, the company has continued to diversify its range and grow, employing more than 50 people and supplying products nationwide, as well as being the leading provider of metal modular ramping solutions.

“The most rewarding moments over the last 20 years (aside from becoming grandparents!) has been helping the lives of thousands of our customers through the products and services we provide, preserving and promoting independence, and increasing their quality of life,” finished Nigel.

www.easibathe.com / www.easiaccess.co.uk

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