A Durham-based pest and bird control business is celebrating 15 years in operation after its founder received vital support from The Prince’s Trust to get it off the ground.
Michael Taylor, now 34, was just 18 when he took part in The Trust’s Enterprise programme, which helps unemployed young people to start their own business, in 2004. The 700th business client supported by The Trust in County Durham, he received a £500 grant followed by a £1,500 loan, as well as an experienced business mentor for his first year of trading.
Initially named MT Avian Control before being rebranded Contego, the company now employs 50 staff across the UK, including its North East head office in Newton Aycliffe .
Michael, who around the same time as launching his business trained owls for the second and third instalments of the Harry Potter film franchise, says The Trust’s support back then had a lasting effect on him and he still credits it with helping to turn his ideas into success.
He recalls: “The money they gave me helped me to buy my first piece of proper equipment, a species-specific distress call unit, as well as fundamental things such as uniforms and business cards. But the advice and support I got from my mentor in setting out and developing my business plan was just as important, if not more.
“Their generosity set the foundations for how we still operate today, our culture, our core values and how we support our staff. Without it, it would have been very difficult for me to start my business.”
Contego’s turnover for 2019 is forecast to exceed £2.6 million and the company recently won the BPCA and won the Community Initiative of the Year award, also shortlisted for Company of the Year. Michael now hopes it will continue to grow into the biggest independent pest control company in the UK.
He said: “I’m confident we’ve got a bright future ahead and that’s what The Prince’s Trust does for young people. If you’ve got an idea, the time is now. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, some just need some refining and they can help you with that in the same way they helped me.”
Mark Dunn, North East Enterprise Manager at The Prince’s Trust, said: “Stories like Michael’s are so inspirational, both to us here at The Trust hoping to unearth and nurture today’s entrepreneurial talent, and to those starting out now. That he still partly attributes the success of his thriving business to the support he received 15 years ago goes to show just how important the right advice and guidance in the early stages can be.”
Since 1983 The Prince’s Trust has helped over 85,000 young people to start their own business. To find our more, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk/help-for-young-people/support-starting-business.