Plastic Surgeon offers specialist cosmetic repairs across the UK and sometimes beyond to almost anyone with something broken, spoiled or flagging a bit through wear and tear.
With turnover at £10 million plus and annual growth over 10 per cent, the company’s main customers include housebuilders, construction companies and insurers – Aviva was the first to see its advantages – as well as manufacturers, retailers and facilities managers.
Most recently international cruise ship operators have joined the list, with Plastic Surgeon charged with ensuring swimming pools, cabins and the like stay in ship-shape condition.
Ten years ago people would throw out and start again. But now repair comes first
Calling on a wide array of fillers, hardeners, polishers and colours, the firm’s skilled artisan finishers get the better of interior and exterior problems, be those chipped work tops, dented doors or flood and fire wrecked floors and walls.
It counts particular highlights however as mending windows after a break-in, restoring glazed tiles, resurfacing kitchen panels – glossy ones are especially tricky compared to laminates, and recoating comedian Stan Laurel’s statue in Sunderland.
Last year the business saved almost 3,000 tonnes of damaged items and materials from being dumped in landfill and estimates 98 per cent of its work can be completed in a day.
Convenience, cost and climate change concerns shared by both commercial and domestic customers have converged driving a fundamental cultural shift according to company director Mike Aitken.
Company director Mike Aitken and the Fixers
“Ten years ago people would throw out and start again. But now repair comes first, keeping the carcass of a kitchen or bathroom is possible with the new technologies whereas buying new involves more parties and time.”
The techniques Plastic Surgeon has developed to deal with new materials and building technologies have made reclaim more viable, while online communications have speeded up project delivery.
“A floor might be partially damaged, now we can match and revive not rip out completely, and the same goes for older paintwork where the colour shades are no longer available,” explains Aitken.
Privately and venture-capital owned Plastic Surgeon moved from vehicle into building repairs over 10 years ago after realising many of its multi-surface techniques could be adapted.
Based in Bovey Tracey, Devon, where it also has a product development and training lab, the company employs over 200 directly across the UK with a business model that although more expensive has paid for itself.
The company offers specialist cosmetic repairs across the UK and sometimes beyond to almost anyone
“Our aim is to be a one-stop shop for customers, so we don’t employ sub-contractors,” says Aitken “This saves time and gives us complete control, but has added 28 per cent to our cost base.”
Now it is underlining its nationwide coverage credentials, having created a separate Scotland division with 18 new jobs.
“The weather and raw building materials are different there,” he adds. “This proves how specialist we are. We can and do provide the same service to the Highlands and Islands as anywhere else.”
As architecture changes, for example big new buildings increasingly feature exteriors composed of composite panelling, so the company has to meet new challenges such discolouration and damage resulting from incorrect drilling.
It routinely comes to the rescue of bodged jobs too, with the boom in conservatory building a few years ago as in point as it is now leading to more calls as problems from poor original construction become more apparent.
Last year the business saved almost 3,000 tonnes of damaged items from being dumped in landfill
Other spheres such as the medical are also enabling it to broaden its horizons and it recently took on a commission refurbishing equipment so it could be redeployed cost effectively overseas.
But a weak pound remains a continuing concern as the company’s cruise business grows, says Aitken. “In this market we are up against a lot of competitors especially in the US, so currency fluctuations can hit a small independent like us hard.”
Leading UK insurer Aviva was the first in its market to pick up on its role in getting customers back to their homes and businesses faster.
Kelly Robson, head of its commercial claims, explains: “When we saw the fantastic work that Plastic Surgeon does we knew our customers would be delighted too. Using cosmetic multi-surface and fine finishing repairs it’s helping them get back into their homes and businesses much faster than by using more conventional repair methods.”
“Aviva’s support was vital when the recession made us look around for new business and we began to diversify,” agrees Aitken, “the endorsement has helped us to grow and in the way we want. We are continually recruiting and would like to see more women join our workforce.”