Generating near £1.5m turnover has been mere child’s play for one North Tyneside business which specialises in turning responsibly sourced wood into natural playgrounds.
North Shields-based Infinite Playgrounds is looking to recruit up to five people, including skilled woodworkers, thanks to rising demand for its unusual services.
Now in its fifth year of trading, the firm was started in partnership by artists Helen Law and Sam McGeever.
The innovative company specialises in designing and building childrens’ playgrounds with natural materials – supplying to schools and businesses.
Ms Law, creative director at the firm, explained: “The original idea was to develop a type of ‘den’ that could be installed in schools and nurseries. It moved on from there to encompass playgrounds and landscapes as we developed the idea from my kitchen table. Literally everything we’ve done was scaled up from there.
“We didn’t even have a workshop at first – it was literally a case of turning up to jobs with a collection of twigs and branches – and working on site.”
The pair spotted a demand for their services at a time when schools were being encouraged to help children learn through their environment.
Ms Law, who has a background in design for television and theatre, met sculptor Mr McGeever, while working on in partnership on another project.
Together the pair have grown the business to employ 30 people, including office staff and woodworkers who use chainsaws to sculpt the wood into desired shapes.
Ms Law added: “All of our workforce has been trained from the ground up. We have a very young team – including our managers.
“The skills we need, including a lot of chainsaw operating and manual handling, are fairly unique to our business, so we’ve done a lot of the training ourselves.”
Though few competitors exist, Infinite has been successful in beating larger playground building specialists to work – which is predominantly outside of the region.
The business has completed projects all over the country – including landscaping and trail building in addition to playgrounds.
Ms Law said the ambition was now to cater for more North East customers.
She explained: “As a company we operate right at the forefront of understanding of how children learn.
“It would be fantastic to do more projects in our own backyard. Until now most of our work has come from the South East. We just need schools to come forward.
“We’re also continually recruiting and want to hear from local people who can help grow the firm. So far we’ve avoided saying ‘no’ to any projects, and we believe that’s the right way to grow the business. All of our suppliers, from the haulage company down to the health and safety advisor comes from the local area, and we’re keen to keep it that way.”
So far Infinite Playgrounds has completed projects for schools, nurseries and The National Trust – all supplied from its North Tyneside operations.