Now a major player in the workwear industry, Tim Banks launched TuffShop from a humble one-bedroom flat above a chemist after being made redundant 10 years ago.
Spotting a growing market for quality work garments, Tim would buy stock from wholesalers then run across town to get the embroidery done.
“I got sick of working in businesses that I couldn’t make decisions in,” Tim, of Rothwell, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“I only wanted to start the business small and I certainly didn’t expect it to be where it is now. I just wanted enough money to provide for my family, then it just grew and grew and I couldn’t tame the monster!"
TuffShop is now a one-stop online store for personalised workwear, offering everything from high visibility clothing and safety gear to sportswear and shoes for every industry.
Tim and his team have spent a year renovating a former cinema, bingo hall and snooker centre on Aberford Road, most recently the home of children's play centre The Clown House.
It now houses the TuffShop superstore, opened by Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Peacock in September, as well as a production facility that makes up to 40 garments every 10 minutes.
“It’s taken a lot of long hours to get to where we are," Tim added.
“There were a few turned-up noses and a bit of scepticism to start, but now that we've completely transformed it we’ve had a great response.
“It was important we made it look as classy as we could. It’s understated, but still keeps our brand and our image behind it.”
TuffShop is now one of the biggest producers of workwear in Yorkshire and the business has outgrown Tim's expectations, he admits.
He puts the success down to the focus on personalised service and reliability, and he's keen to pass on his entrepreneurial spirit to his growing team.
The 43-year-old added: "I have a very different strategy with my staff to what my bosses had with me, I let them make decisions and get things wrong - if you don’t get things wrong, you won’t learn.
“I give everybody a little bit of authority and I get a kick out of watching people grow, watching them become good leaders themselves.
"I think our ethos is what’s made it such a success. We won’t leave any stone unturned - if somebody needs something for Saturday, they get it. They won’t be let down.
“We’re just trying to provide the top level of service that’s expected. That’s not born from us trying to become anything big, we really want to help.”
Tim has recently employed four new members of staff and he hopes to land sales with even bigger businesses with the boosted production capacity.
He added: “We’re still far from the finished article, but I’m so proud of the lads and lasses who work for me, we couldn’t have done it without them - or the loyal customers.
“There’s a hell of a lot of local businesses who won’t use anyone else and that shows the real spirit of this community.”
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