With support from Business Link, the future looks bright for Cornish lighting design company GIGB Ltd which completed four projects recently for houses featured on Channel Four’s high profile Grand Designs programme.
Presenter Kevin McCloud’s on-air mention resulted in three more big project “wins” in the north west of England, while the company is also currently working on three major London ventures including a project for the Saudi royal family and a large Regent’s Park house for a Swedish oil billionaire.
Advised by Business Link since its inception, GIGB, based on Bickland Water Road, Falmouth, was founded by Ian Bibby to design for and use LED (light emitting diode) technology in mainstream and specialist lighting applications. The technology uses much less energy than any other comparably bright light source for buildings.
In the last two years the business has seen a big increase in its turnover and has grown rapidly to £750,000, with contracts for Heathrow Airport T5, the Eden Project, Liverpool Cathedral and numerous private individuals. In addition the company has created equipment used by the Prime Minister and Number Ten and has been asked by a US aerospace company to design LED lighting solutions for its flight simulator environments
Business Link business adviser Clare Whitney is working with GIGB Ltd to help plan for further growth. She carries out an annual diagnostic review and is currently advising on improving website presence and staffing – a real issue as the company needs to grow from its current five staff to meet demand and, with the prospect of a London head office, is likely to be seeking a design manager for its Cornish office.
“GIGB is a good example of a company that qualifies for our high growth, more intensive advisory programme,” she added. “By staying in touch regularly we can offer appropriate information and bring in specialist brokerages to meet the company’s changing needs and opportunities.
“For instance we recently introduced GIGB to some of the south west’s leading corporate specialists to help with the legal and financial complexities that face any rapidly growing company.”
Commented Ian: “It’s good to have someone outside the company to bounce ideas off and share problems with and touch base with when you need advice, Sometimes when you’re sitting in the middle you can’t see the wood for the tree.
“Initially our key issue was marketing. Customers felt that only pasties and holidays came out of Cornwall, not well designed and cutting edge lighting. Now we need more people in the business as it goes forward.”
Ian, who left teaching in 1982, sold his Home Counties company in 1992 and relocated to Cornwall. Three years ago he was involved in setting up another company, IBSN Ltd, to manufacture and supply worldwide illuminated photo frames – another invention created by him and his team.
GIGB aims to be the UK’s leading supplier of “eco-friendly” off-the-shelf lighting products. “Unlike fluorescent lighting, LEDs have no mercury,” said Ian. “They can be ground back into sand and, with no toxic waste, they use much less energy to manufacture than compact fluorescent light sources. The light is instant and constant, with no flicker or warm-up delay – and LEDs use significantly less energy.”
Ian has noticed that more and more people agree with him. “Only three years ago, people wanted a cheap lighting solution, not a green one. Now the ground has really shifted. Customers are prepared to use high quality lighting with a low carbon footprint and that is what LED provides. More customers desire better quality lighting solutions and have no desire to go backwards to achieve the low carbon approach.”
During 2007, in Cornwall alone, the company supplied products using their LED technology for the illumination of 23 houses and many more boats and ships.
As GIGB takes its new lighting solutions to the world, Ian is determined that products should not rely solely on the brilliance of the modern bright white LED. “It is a fantastic invention but to use it at its best you need to design for it. That is why we sell purpose-designed fittings rather than simply offering LED retro-fit bulbs which do not comply with part L of the building regulations.
“Lighting can be better and more innovative as well as greener. LEDs’ low heat and small size mean that totally new solutions can be achieved.”