Surface Medic St Albans is a professional company that specialises in cosmetic surface repairs. The company can repair and restore virtually any surface. The list of services they provide is endless. They deliver repairs to cracks, chips, dents, scratches, burns, and holes. Some of the surfaces they repair include wood and laminates, baths, sinks, shower trays, doors, frames, kitchen units, wall and floor tiles, glass & windows, worktop & countertop, bricks & stone. Robert “Bob” Cawte, one of the directors of the company recently filled in Herts Review on their business journey and future aspirations.
Robert “Bob” Cawte and his son Ryan Cawte purchased the Surface Medic franchise for St Albans in the spring of 2017 and are gradually establishing the business as the leading cosmetic surface repair company in Hertfordshire. “We have developed techniques to repair and restore virtually anything. Initially the founders of Surface Medic were targeting the new build housing market as unfortunately there are a lot of careless mistakes which makes it difficult to sell the property. However, today we work across many markets – insurance, facilities management, property management (rental market & student accommodation) and building companies. We also work with tradespeople like plumbers, tilers etc.”
As a result of strong demand, the business has taken off relatively quickly. “Cosmetic repairs are at its growth phase. It is a brand-new industry. We are finding new products and techniques on a regular basis. There are a lot of products in the US which we will adopt and introduce over time. We do brick stitching and colouring, so they are uniform with the others, repair and restore burn marks on work tops, repair splash backs, badly fitted joints, sanitaryware, window seals and repair stuff damaged due to accidents. We carry out repairs on wood, stone, plastic, enamel, tiles etc. Our repair and replacement service can save up to 90% of the replacement cost”.
So how did this all start for the father and son team? Bob is a Printing Engineer. He spent 34 years as a self-employed printer. Ryan used to be a Chef and then transitioned into bespoke LED lightning installations before teaming up with Bob to launch Surface Medic St Albans. “I could see the decline in the printing industry, and I was looking for another opportunity to see myself up to retirement. Ryan is pretty hands on and was also looking for a new opportunity. We researched and found the Surface Medic opportunity, purchased the franchise, and completed the NVQ training course. Now we are a team of 5 and also work with subcontractors. We pay a licence fee, and the franchisor provides a lot of on-going training and technical support. They also refer a lot of jobs to us as well.
Through advertising on social media, online media and print, its profile on Checkatrade and relationships with insurance companies, estate & letting agents, building companies and recommendations, the company has a pipeline of work. “We only use quality products and work to a remarkably high standard. Our clients are happy with our work and so we get a lot of recommendations. We undertake large projects like fixing 34 doors in a block of flats to smaller jobs like broken bathroom tiles in a domestic property. We have worked in film studios, premiership football clubs and even the head office of one of the largest retailers in the world.
Although business has taken off really well there are some challenges. “We have an education gap. It has not been easy getting out the message of what we do. People do not really get it. Many people do not know that a chipped bathroom can be fixed, and it will cost nowhere near replacing the bathroom. So, we have to keep educating people. We also need to show more of what we do out there”. Business was challenging over the covid-19 lockdown period due to restrictions on movement leading to a slowdown in work in March and April. However, there are more enquiries now and business is gradually getting back to normal.
There is a lot to learn and a lot of new techniques to adopt. The company must keep innovating to deliver higher quality work and stay ahead of the competition. Surface Medic St Albans will be launching 3 new products in the coming weeks. The company also wants to move into selling after care products to its final customers as another stream of income. These will be products that cannot be found in the supermarkets or other retail outlets. They will also add another technician to help with the workload.
Bob enjoys the great work they do and the opportunity to meet a lot of new people daily. He hopes to carry on until retirement and then hand the reigns of the business to Ryan. If you have any damaged surfaces in your home contact the team at Surface Medic here.