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Celebrating a Decade of Business Success

Sunday, 19th February 2012 Celebrating a Decade of Business Success
Taken from The Louth Leader, Wed, Sep 16th, 1987.

Ten years ago this week, three Louth men who were just starting out in business on their own, could have not foreseen what a thriving country-wide business they would have established by 1987. G.R.S. Electrical engineers has grown from three partners to a company now employing over 30 staff. G.R.S. was formed in 1977 by three Louth men, who at the time were working for other companies in the area. They decided rather than go it alone, they would pool their resources and work together. Martin Smith, John Riggall and the late Brian Gilliatt, began G.R.S. from premises in Alanby Crescent in Fotherby. Their local knowledge and electrical skills quickly established them as a company with a byword of quality and service.

Pictured above: G.R.S. partners Ian Gilliatt, John Riggall and Martin Smith. In just ten years they've built a business employing over 30 people.

Those early days were a struggle, recalled Martin and John. "For the first few weeks we didn't have any money coming in until we sent out invoices for work done. We had to live off our savings and work almost 24 hours a day."

Partner Brian Gilliatt sadly died within two years of the company being set up. However, his son Ian immediately came into the business and carried on the Gilliatt name in G.R.S. The company began to settle into a regular routine of work. Long hours and hard work meant little time off for the men and their wives who would be busily working behind the scenes preparing the invoices and other paperwork.

"My wife Joan regularly recalls the times when she sat up to 3am getting invoices ready for the post", said John Riggall. As new work began arriving from further afield, G.R.S. had to look at taking on more staff. This had a snowball effect on the business; the more staff they got the more work they seemed to get until they outgrew their Fotherby premises and had to look for larger premises in Louth. The company found the ideal site on the new Louth Trading estate, just down the road from the Fairfield Industrial Estate. Installed here with a much larger warehouse and workshop, the partners decided that as a natural expansion of the business, a retail outlet could be installed. Using warehouse staff to man the trade and retail counter proved to be a real success.

Initially a small selection of power tools and small domestic items were alongside the huge range of trade electrical goods. But the early days were just the start of what is now a considerable part of their business. Still new contracts continued to come in, now from almost all corners of the country and once again G.R.S. were faced with the dilemma of not having the size of premises suitable for the amount of business they had generated.

At this time the retail side of the business was also doing well so premises nearer the town centre would be an added advantage. After weeks of looking, a site in Northgate was found. It had an ideal shop frontage, office space and warehouse accommodation. It is from these Northgate premises that G.R.S. will begin their second decade of trading. G.R.S. have always kept a low profile on their business and it will be a surprise to many that the company now employs 34 people and currently has contracts running in Kent, Wiltshire, Yorkshire, Cambridgeshire as well as many nearer home.

Richard Smith shows off just a small proportion of the massive stock of domestic appliances and DIY electrical equipment and tools.

One of the biggest jobs the firm has ever undertaken was at the new Lin Pac factory in Featherstone, Yorkshire. Martin Smith reckoned that by the end of the contract the job had eaten up over 40 miles of cable! Very large contracts are now no problem to G.R.S. who are becoming one of the largest electrical contracting companies in the area. A constant change and upgrading of regulation for wiring has meant that G.R.S. have many rewiring contracts, especially in hospitals, factories and nursing homes. As well as ordinary wiring jobs most of these larger contracts also need complicated alarm systems whether they be fire alarms and detectors or nurse call systems.

"There are an awful lot of regulations relating to electricity in public places and it is most important for us to keep up to date with these laws", said John Riggall. One of the many new legislations has, inadvertently, led to a new development in the G.R.S. business. When installing many commercial and industrial electrical fittings, signs often have to be attached. These signs, usually of plastic, are marker signs, alarm signs and emergency procedure signs. G.R.S. found they were buying so many of these small notices they installed their own engraving machine into their Northgate warehouse. Once again one thing seemed to lead to another and while they kept busy supplying their own men and jobs with the necessary signs, orders were coming in from the trade and the general public. Now they have a full time employee working in the engraving department supplying all kinds of signs and information boards.

Just some of the 30 staff at G.R.S. prepare for work. The company now has a fleet of 16 vans. The future looks bright for the electrical engineers.

They are in a strong position with their contracting work but feel they don't want to grow much more. "We have got to keep our personal touch with all our customers. If we get too big we'll go the way of so many others and fail to offer that special service which sets us apart from the very big businesses," said Mr Riggall.

YTS employee Steve Tindall is kept busy in the G.R.S. engraving department. Here he shows just a few of the badges and signs that are available.