21st Century Sheds

When is a shed not a shed? When it’s a 21st century design innovation. Steeltech Sheds has taken a great British icon and given it the mother of all makeovers. And as Malcolm Storer found out when he visited its new outlet at Wilmslow Garden Centre, Steeltech is set to revolutionise the way we use our back gardens.

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The company not only manufactures steel sheds, but garden rooms, studios, workshops, summer houses and greenhouses. One of its latest products — a one bedroom garden chalet — can be erected within two to three days and can act as an extension to a home. It’s the perfect solution for housing an elderly parent or a young adult saving to get on the property ladder

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I’m shown around by managing director, Niall Brady, an affable Irishman originally from County Cavan. “All our products are completely bespoke and come with a 20-year structural warranty. You will never have to paint them, you will never have to reroof them.

They’re built to order, so they can be anything you want them to be — size, shape colour — from a playroom to a schoolroom to a garden chalet.

You can even design it yourself. The price includes delivery and erection.”

Founded in 1994 by Irish entrepreneur, Sean Brett, Steeltech Sheds has only been operating in Cheshire for three weeks and already business is booming.

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They have other outlets across the UK, including Luton, Wolverhampton and Glasgow. Not bad for a company founded by a man who bought and grew apple trees when he was 13.

Born in County Galway, Sean left school at 14 and trained as a mechanic. He came over to England to work in the construction industry but returned to Ireland two years later to start a successful coal distribution business.

During that period, he had a eureka moment — he noticed that wooden sheds weren’t fit for purpose so decided to build one out of steel. Today, Steeltech has grown from a small display yard in Galway run by one man to fifteen retail outlets nationwide boasting 150 employees.

Niall continues enthusiastically, “One of the unique things about our steel sheds is that they’re all insulated with a fleece lining to prevent condensation. Our offices and garden rooms come fully wired and panelled-out in tongue and groove. Windows can be added or taken out, doors moved around, whatever the client wants. Inside and out they require no maintenance whatsoever.”

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If you’re like me and dread the autumnal struggle slapping Cuprinol over your shed and repairing holes, then this is a dream come true.

“We currently manufacture the sheds in Ireland and ship them to the UK. But towards the end of 2017 we’re looking at building our own manufacturing plant in Sheffield, providing employment for around 120 people.

We chose Sheffield because of the city’s proud history of steel making. We want to utilise the skills indigenous to that area. Also, there’s a lot of unemployment in Sheffield, plus it’s a central location.”

Considering today’s uncertain business climate, especially for a company ploughing millions into the UK, I asked Niall about the thorny question of ‘Brexit’. He laughs off my concern. “We see it as an opportunity. We’re currently selling 16 million Euros worth of sheds in Ireland per annum. That’s to a population of 3.5 million people. There are 66 million people in the UK. Need I say more?

As far as Europe is concerned, we plan to expand over there during the next decade, as well as targeting Australia and the US.”

That’s good news for Britain post Brexit. And with global ambition like that, small wonder Sean Brett was recently nominated for Irish Entrepreneur of the Year.

Steeltech Sheds is currently recruiting. To find out more visit www.steeltechsheds.co.uk

 

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