Business might be slightly different this year, but for Jake Newport, MD of luxury sauna specialists Finnmark, new revenue streams should hopefully keep the firm very much in the black.
In the four short years since founding, County Durham-based Finnmark Sauna has made a name for itself as a leading supplier of bespoke wooden buildings where people can – quite literally – let off steam.
Boasting a rock-solid growth of around 300 per cent every year since launch, the company was looking to maintain its impressive rate of expansion by adding a second installation team in 2020 and moving to a bigger warehouse.
The coronavirus might have temporarily put paid to those two ideas, but that definitely doesn’t mean that MD Jake Newport – who started the firm with his brother Max – is on the back-foot.
Looking for new revenue streams
“I was quite fortunate in that my partner is from Europe,” said Jake, “and her family also have businesses there. What was happening in Europe seemed to come about three weeks before the UK, so when everyone here was still wondering if coronavirus was going to be a big problem I was gearing everybody up for it.”
Specifically, he and his team made sure their warehouse was well-stocked to meet any demand throughout the summer, and, mindful of the fact that face-to-face meetings with potential new clients would be off the cards for a while, he looked at new ways to bring in business.
“We are still getting leads in where people are asking us to design a sauna for them, and we’re doing that with phone calls and talking them through the designs,” Jake said, “but we’re also looking to expand into new marketplaces. We’re doing more modular cabin kits, and also expanding into the DIY sauna market – making sure we’re offering more information and resources so that people know how to build them properly and safely themselves.”
As luck would have it, the 12-person firm also completed a hi-spec “sauna trailer” (a sauna on a trailer) a few weeks before the crisis really hit and received lots of interest from potential new clients after it garnered media attention. “We’ve had so much interest that we’re also offering those,” added Jake. “They are bespoke sauna trailers that allow people to tow them to the shore of a lake and use them there.”
More than filling the gap
As the UK government has allowed the construction sector to operate through the crisis, Finnmark’s installation team is – for now at least – still busy, albeit working to a stringent new set of terms that Newport has put in place to ensure they can do so safely.
While the company’s sales pipeline for its tailor-made work is – unsurprisingly – a little more slender than it usually is, Jake is confident that his firm’s new revenue streams may be good for as much as £1m of new business over the coming year or two.
“The idea is that they will more than fill the gap,” he said. “The mindset here is that we’re trying to continue on a growth trajectory. I would expect growth to slow this year, but I would expect that we will still grow.”
While there is no doubt that Jake is sympathetic to those affected by horrors of the crisis, he is equally pragmatic about the need for businesses to continue as best they can.
“It’s a little morbid, but if we had to pivot to build coffins to keep up with an increase in demand, then we would,” he said. “We’re not just going to turn our back and quit. I have an ethos that if you only enjoy being in business when times are good, then you shouldn’t be in business.”
Jake’s top three coronavirus tips
- Look after yourself
You’re living through a once-in-a-hundred-years event. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Be optimistic
Keep looking for opportunities – there’s money to be made even in a depression.
- Be determined
When you’re going through hell, keep going. If you stay stuck in the middle of a difficult situation, it’s not going to get any better.