Less than two years ago, Lee was facing a life of uncertainty after being made redundant from his job as contracts manager for a building company.
Fast forward and having joined forces with wife Rachel to form Harriet Lee Building and Renovation, Lee, from Upper Llandwrog in Wales, is celebrating, as the husband-and-wife dream building team have this month been chosen as winners in a UK-wide award to find Britain’s best van heroes.
The award, run by vehicle leasing company Vanarama, aims to recognise and reward hard-working entrepreneurs who use a van to operate their day-to-day business.
Vanarama Van Heroes 2016
- There are regional winners too, who we’ll be featuring in the weeks ahead
Rachel and Lee were chosen from hundreds of entrants after taking customer care to stratospheric levels while helping out in local community projects. As well as the pride of winning the title, Rachel and Lee also receive a free three-year van lease from Vanarama and the Ford Transit Custom looks set to become a vital tool as the couple continue to expand their successful business.
After being made redundant Lee was not ready to sit on the scrapheap. Instead, the couple have created a competitive new building business from the ground up.
Lee is the builder, spearheading the building and technical side of the business, while Rachel is the customer focus.
She explained: “There are plenty of building companies around, so we wanted to stand out from the crowd.
“To do this we simply provide a great standard of building and fantastic customer service. It sounds basic and I agree, should be fundamental to every business, but sadly it’s not. Everyone’s experienced builders that don’t get back to them, or just don’t turn up.
“We pride ourselves on great customer communication, reminding customers of appointments, getting back to them promptly and even using Skype to update clients on remote building projects. Whatever it takes to get a high quality building project finished on time, every time.”
As well as forging a new business, Rachel and Lee have thrown themselves into helping the local community. They have raised funds for a new playground in their village, donating time and materials to the project.
Their company also sponsored the local school sports day, providing medals, prizes, water and of course, new sacks for the sack race!
Lee says: “The local people have been really supportive while we’ve been establishing Harriet Lee, so it’s fantastic to be able to give something back.
“After losing my job two years ago, life was looking grim, it’s really rewarding to see that the hard graft Rachel, myself and all our co-workers have put into the business is being recognised and the future is looking bright!”
Andy Alderson, managing director and founder of Vanarama, says: “As we thought, the quality of entrants we received from contenders for the Vanarama Van Hero title was really high.
“There are so many entrepreneurial van drivers out there, building their businesses and making a vital contribution to the UK economy. It was hard to pick the winner, but Rachel and Lee stood out not just for their hard work and community spirit, but also for their resourcefulness, use of the latest technology and considerate planning for the future of their business.
“Their focus on doing the best they can for their customers closely aligns with Vanarama’s own philosophy, values shared by both companies.”