JLJ Autorepair

Meet one of the businesses at Ards Business Hub...

Meet Josh Johnston, local man from Newtownards and founder of JLJ Autorepair, one of the exciting businesses at Ards Business Hub.

 

Josh embarked on his journey into the motor trade when he was just 16. He recalls, ‘I have been interested in cars and motorbikes since I was a teenager. After completing my certifications in Vehicle Maintenance and Repair, I started an apprenticeship in 2014 in a local garage, Fosters Garage. I left there in 2020 and worked for a few other repair garages where I continued to develop my skills and gain more experience. I decided to set up my own business, JLJ Autorepair, at Strangford Park in January 2024.’

 

JLJ Autorepair offers a wide variety of services to suit all your vehicle needs, from routine maintenance to complex repairs. Josh highlights that his ‘commitment to quality and customer satisfaction’ is at the centre of everything he does and drives his business forward.

 

Josh states that starting his business in Ards was an easy decision, ‘As soon as I heard the unit in Strangford Park was available, I jumped at the opportunity. Being from Newtownards myself, I couldn’t have asked for a better location to set up my business, and it’s an added bonus that my unit is conveniently placed near the MOT Centre.’

 

Josh describes his experience as an entrepreneur, ‘My favourite thing about owning a business has probably been the flexibility and independence that comes from being my own boss. I get to decide what hours I work and can manage my time better. Plus, most of the customers I get are from Newtownards. It has been great getting to know and make connections with local people.’

 

Josh shares his experience since moving into his unit at Strangford Park, ‘I have really enjoyed setting up my business here at Ards Business Hub. There is a real sense of community at Strangford Park, the tenants here have been very welcoming and friendly. The team at Ards Business Hub have been great. They were so helpful during the process of moving into my unit and continue to offer support for my business.’

 

Based on his own experience, Josh shares his advice to anyone thinking of starting a business, ‘If I could give advice to someone thinking of starting a business, I would say don’t be afraid to take the leap and get started. Embrace the challenges and seize every opportunity that comes your way. Having my own business has been great, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for JLJ Autorepair. I am already expanding my team and have a job opportunity available for anyone thinking of working in the motor trade.’

 

Helen Graham, our Property and Conference Coordinator, oversaw Josh’s move into his unit in January. Helen says, ‘Josh and his business, JLJ Autorepair, have been a great asset to Strangford Park. Josh is a lovely guy and it’s wonderful to see how successful his business has been already. I can’t wait to see how his business continues to grow over time.’

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Meet Our Property & Conference Coordinator

Meet Our Property & Conference Coordinator

New team member at Ards Business Hub supports local businesses

 

Ards Business Hub has appointed a new Property and Conference Co-ordinator to support its mission to develop the local economy.

 

Helen Graham, who is originally from Montreal but now a long-time resident of Donaghadee, brings a wealth of knowledge to the role.

 

She will be looking after tenants at the three sites – Sketrick House, Strangford Park and Nendrum Park – as well as the meeting rooms and conference facilities.

 

As a social enterprise, Ards Business Hub aims to deliver real social results and impact to the community.

 

Nichola Lockhart, CEO of Ards Business Hub, said that Helen will be a real asset to the organisation and to the Ards business community.

 

“Helen has tremendous energy and is such a people person; she really cares about helping others. At Ards Business Hub we feel we have a great offering – superb commercial and industrial units, spec office space and free on-site parking but it’s also our team that make such a tremendous difference to our clients,” Nichola said.

 

Helen is looking forward to working with the diverse and exciting range of businesses that make Ards Business Hub their home.

 

“I love working with people and want to make sure that I’m adding value to everything I offer the local business community. Ards Business Hub is so much more than just the fabulous offices and commercial units. It’s the wealth of free business advice and support that makes it truly special,” she said.

 

With years of experience in sales and customer service, including locally with Green Man Packaging in Bangor, she also has first-hand knowledge of running her own computer gaming business, Good Game, from 2019-2022 in the centre of Newtownards.

 

“I understand what it’s like for entrepreneurs and business owners who are having to do all the work and make all the decisions themselves. The pressure is enormous but having a community of supportive professionals and being surrounded by other like-minded businesses can make all the difference,” she said.

 

Having moved from Canada in 2003, Northern Ireland is now firmly home.

 

“I love living here. And while I have just joined the team at Ards, I feel immediately like one of the family,” she said.

 

In her spare time, Helen sells craft items she makes herself on Etsy and is studying Business Management at the Open University.

 

Read more about our latest news here.

Pictured above (left to right): Nichola Lockhart, CEO, and Helen Graham, Property and Conference Coordinator. 

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Available Office Space – B2

Available Office Space

Are you a small business owner in need of an office space to start expanding your business?

 

Strangford Park offers a range of industrial units, with sizes ranging from 330 to 1600 square feet, and office spaces ranging from 60 to 450 square feet, catering to the needs of start-up and SME businesses across various sectors.

 

New unit available at Strangford Park;

 

Unit number: B2
Size: 1071 sq ft
Rent (Ex VAT): £452.50

 

Would you like to find out more about our available unit? Please complete our Property Enquiry Form, and someone from our team will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

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ITNI and EPOS NI

ITNI & EPOS NI

In 2013, Ben Nesbitt arrived at Ards Business Hub for support setting up a new business plan for his company ITNI. Ten years on, he has two fast growing businesses.

Meet the Business:

 

Ben Nesbitt had always wanted to be self-employed so when he and his wife had their first baby, he decided it was time to pursue his dream. Having built up years of experience in IT systems, he knew he had the skills and contacts to create a solid business. He came into Ards Business Hub on a start a business programme and Nichola Lockhart helped him develop his business plan.

 

He set up ITNI, which offers a one-stop service for business computer and IT needs – including phone lines and systems, broadband, networking equipment, PCs, servers, mobiles as well as offering installation, maintenance and support. Customers responded to his hands-on service and dedicated support and soon he was working with businesses of all sizes across the UK and Ireland.

 

“It gives me so much satisfaction helping people with their computers. We all rely on IT so much that it’s essential to choose the right technology for your needs and when something goes wrong, it’s a huge relief to have someone that will deal with the issue straight away,” he said.

 

As ITNI grew, he spotted another opportunity to support his hospitality clients with their EPOS (electronic point of sale) systems. These computerised systems not only take payments but have functionality that links sales and stock levels with each company’s back office giving a clear overview of business performance, which can help to spot trends and manage stock among other things.

 

Ben travelled to the Isle of Wight for specialist training on these systems and started EPOS NI. The two companies now have a total of eight staff and have moved into four office units in Sketrick House. One of their units is a specialist EPOS showroom so that clients can come in, view all the options available, try them out and see which suits best.

 

 

What they say about Ards Business Hub:

 

Ben loves the space in Ards Business Hub and he is potentially looking to expand further as the business continues to grow. He was attracted by the handy on-site car parking and 24-hour access as well as the flexible lease and the support from the staff at the centre.

 

“We’ve developed a great relationship with the team at Ards Business Hub that started a decade ago with that very first business plan. We really like the flexible lease as it offers us the potential to quickly and easily move into bigger space without being tied down to a contract that no longer suits. To us, the Hub feels like home.”

 

 

What we say:

 

Ards Business Hub Chief Executive, Nichola Lockhart said: “When I first met Ben, I knew he had the determination and energy to create a strong, successful business. Not only did he provide his customers with such high-level IT support but he had the foresight to develop his skills and expand into EPOS. We look forward to seeing what this great company does next.”

 

 

Find out more about ITNI or about EPOS NI.

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Monty & Carlo

Business Support Case Study

Monty & Carlo - Gary Patterson

Gary Patterson, the founder of Monty & Carlo, embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in October 2023. Although it’s still early days, he has found the experience of starting his own business exhilarating.

 

Motivated by a health scare and driven by a strong work ethic, Gary was inspired by a documentary on global waste and his two daughters’ passion for making a positive impact on the environment. He believed that an individual could make a difference, and he set out to prove this through his business.

 

Monty & Carlo is an independent clothing brand with a strong focus on sustainability. Their ecommerce website offers quality organic clothing, with the circular economy at its core. Gary’s commitment to sustainability and his desire to create a positive environmental impact are evident in every aspect of his business.

 

During his entrepreneurial journey, Gary received valuable support for his business from Ards Business Hub. This support provided him with a solid foundation of knowledge, giving him the confidence to grow his business independently. The support he received acted as a stepping stone, helping him develop his business idea and providing him with essential knowledge and tools.

 

Reflecting on his experience, Gary shares a piece of advice he wishes he had known earlier: “Keep it simple – don’t over complicate your idea.” He emphasises the importance of breaking down your business goals into achievable steps, celebrating small successes along the way. Gary also encourages small business owners not to fear making mistakes but rather to learn from them and keep moving forward.

 

When asked about his top tip for aspiring entrepreneurs, Gary urges them to just get started. He highlights the importance of taking that first step, learning as you progress, and not trying to cover every eventuality before launching. “You learn more by just doing it!” he states.

 

Gary appreciates the opportunities that come with running a business in the Ards and North Down area. While Monty & Carlo operates primarily online, the support and guidance he received from Ards Business Hub were instrumental in building his confidence and laying the foundation for his business. He emphasises the importance of information and research, urging aspiring entrepreneurs to gather knowledge and dive into their ventures.

 

Currently, Gary’s main challenge lies in gaining brand recognition in the vast online world. However, he is determined to tackle this challenge head-on. To continue building his business, he seeks support in social media marketing to raise awareness and is focused on embracing confidence in what he has created and not being afraid to shout about it.

 

Gary’s journey with Monty & Carlo is an inspiring testament to the power of individual action and the impact it can have on the world. Through his commitment to sustainability and his drive to make a difference, he is set to create a successful business that resonates with customers who share his values.

 

 

Find out more about Monty & Carlo here.

HB Safety Consultancy

HB Safety Consultancy

HBSC is a thriving safety consultancy formed by Hayley Burgess

Meet our business:

 

HBSC Ltd was founded in 2011 by highly experienced consultant Hayley Burgess, who was the first woman in Northern Ireland to receive third party accreditation from the IFE (Institution of Fire Engineers).

 

From their base in Sketrick House, the four-person team look after clients across the whole of the UK and Ireland offering health and safety risk management and training as well as fire safety.

 

“I did my Master’s degree part-time while also working full-time as a supermarket manager. Since then, I’ve wanted to continue to build my skills and knowledge and share them with my clients,” she said.

 

All the consultants are highly qualified, continually updating their skills to keep up with modern legislation. For example, Hayley is not only a Registered Fire Risk Assessor (Life Safety) with the Institution of Fire Engineers, she is also a Chartered Fellow Member of The Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) and listed on the Occupational Safety & Health Consultant’s Register (OSHCR). 

 

What they say about Ards Business Hub:

 

HBSC moved into offices at Sketrick House in December 2022 as the company was growing and needed additional office space for their admin team. Hayley had been providing Health and Safety support to Ards Business Hub so she immediately knew the location would suit her and her team.

 

Because she travels extensively, she wanted handy road links and proximity to Belfast City Airport as well as free, convenient parking.

 

“It’s the professional atmosphere at Ards Business Hub that really stands out. If we have training sessions or clients visiting, we know that they will enjoy visiting us here,” she said.

 

What we say:

 

Ards Business Hub Chief Executive, Nichola Lockhart said: “This is a well-established business that delivers a first class health and safety service across the UK and Ireland. Hayley Burgess is blazing a trail for women in this most specialised of fields and provides a great example that should encourage more women to enter the health and safety and risk management profession.”

 

Find out more about HBSC.

Meet our Tenants

Meet our Tenants at Nendrum Park

Would you like to know more about the fabulous tenants that are located at Ards Business Hub?

Click on the image below and explore an interactive map of Nendrum Park.

 

Need help using the map?

 

Once you click on the image below it will open up as a pdf in a new tab.

Click on any of the location icon’s and you will be directed to the tenant’s website or social media platform!

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Mike’s Fancy Cheese

Our Tenant Case Study: Mike's Fancy Cheese

Mike’s Fancy Cheese has been at Ards Business Hub since the company was first started by Michael Thomson a decade ago.

 

When Belfast man Michael Thomson first got the idea of making his own cheese, he knew that Newtownards was the perfect location. To make great cheese, you need the best milk, so after getting plenty of advice from the team at Clandeboye Estate Yogurt – who were also based at Ards Business Hub for many years – Mike found two nearby dairy farmers to supply his new business.

 

He went to England to study cheese-making in 2012 and then ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to get the business off the ground. He moved into a unit at the Hub’s Strangford Park to start making Young Buck, his signature blue cheese, made to a recipe that started from a book called Practical Cheesemaking that was published in 1917.

 

The cheese was a massive success and he and his team – three full time and one part time – now make enough cheese to sell to suppliers throughout Northern Ireland, Ireland, the UK and Europe as well as selling direct to customers in a shop in Belfast and online, mainly by subscription. The shop and the online business also carry an extensive range of Irish cheeses.

 

“When I started the business, I had a good idea that the cheese would be a success. There was no one else in Northern Ireland producing a cheese like it. And no cheeseboard is complete without a blue. At the very start we sold the cheese at pop up events and festivals but now about 70 per cent is sold wholesale,” he said.

 

What they say about Ards Business Hub:

 

For Mike the location was key to his choice to move to Ards. The positive recommendation by long-term tenant Clandeboye Yogurt – which has only recently moved to its own premises – helped cement the decision. Mike’s Fancy Cheese has now taken on a second unit in the park as it plans for growth – either increasing its production or trialling a brand-new cheese.

 

Mike said: “We absolutely love it here and I honestly don’t think we could have done it anywhere else. Not only are we close to our suppliers but the units are perfect the needs of a food production business. We make cheese three or four days a week, and this is such a nice, relaxed atmosphere in which to work.”

 

What we say:

 

Ards Business Hub Chief Executive, Nichola Lockhart said: “Mike’s Fancy Cheese has become one of Northern Ireland’s food heroes. Mike had such conviction in his product and he and his team work hard to continually develop the business. We are delighted that they chose to start their story here at Ards Business Hub.”

 

 

Find out more about Mike’s Fancy Cheese here.

Black Modern Media Productions

Business Support Case Study

Dean Black - Black Modern Media Productions

Meet the new businesses supported by Ards Business Hub: Black Modern Media Productions

 

Dean Black, the CEO of Black Modern Media Productions, has always had a passion for gaming, which led him to develop an interest in digital content creation and website design.

 

The ICT graduate from Bangor found himself pursuing a career in customer service for ten years, but after a period at home with his fiancé who was expecting their son, he realised that his work-life balance was wrong and he wanted to pursue his dream of running his own digital media company.

 

He had worked on various content creation projects with companies, providing photography and videography to help with their online brand profiles and his work began to get noticed.

 

“It was then that a very close friend of mine introduced me to a potential customer that was looking for some content creation and marketing for their business and had been impressed with my work. On that day, Black Modern Media Productions was born,” he said.

 

Dean had the skills to create fantastic online content but needed to learn the basics of running his own business. He contacted Go For It NI and they put them in touch with a business advisor based at Ards Business Hub.

 

What he said about the business start programme at Ards Business Hub:

 

“The service provided by Ards Business Hub was fantastic. They showed me how to secure the funding to buy essential camera and office equipment and helped me every step of the way to develop my business plan.

 

“The advisors continue to provide me with advice, equipping me with the financial skills to run the business. They are continually sending me links to any classes or networking events that would help me grow the company. I couldn’t recommend them highly enough.”

 

“The business is going from strength to strength and I’m flat out working for a range of companies. As well as working with companies in Northern Ireland, work takes me to London, Dublin, Manchester, Liverpool and Edinburgh.”

 

What we say:

 

Ards Business Hub Chief Executive, Nichola Lockhart said: “Dean is a perfect example of someone who is harnessing his passion and interests to create a highly successful new business. Content creation is a fast growing industry in Northern Ireland and we look forward to helping him as much as we can in the future.”

 

Find out more about Black Modern Media Productions here.

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