The Workshop - Paul Parmenter

An experienced design and technology teacher who has also worked in industry, Paul Parmenter set up the Workshop in Aberfeldy, Perthshire in June 2014 with funding and business support from Firstport.

Paul provides low-cost, high-quality solutions to his customers, who would otherwise struggle to find suppliers given the relative isolation of the area. He has worked on a range of projects in the local community, such as making signs for local businesses, laser-cutting medals for the local triathlon and making scenery for Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

The Workshop supports people toward employment, offering training in practical manufacturing and business-place skills in a business environment. Although open to all, it has a particular focus on supporting young people and those facing additional barriers to employment. They currently support 13 trainees with additional support needs and aim to support a further 63 over the next three years.

One success story is 16-year-old Connor, who was disengaged with school and started at the Workshop doing two days a week work experience. He proved such an asset to the business that Paul was able to offer him a positive destination which allowed the teenager to leave school. Paul explained:

Connor came to us to do woodwork but I felt it was better that he tried everything. He made such a success of his first task – welding steel racking for a local events company – that he effectively paid for the first six months of his employment. He has been so enthusiastic and eager to learn.

Connor started off doing metalwork but has since learned other skills including joinery and laser-cutting and wants to pursue a career in welding. He said:

I was fed up with school. Coming to the Workshop made such a difference. I had always wanted to do something hands on and see the results first-hand. Coming here really hit the nail on the head. It showed me what coming to work was actually like and I now know what I want to do.

The Workshop has also helped to diversify the local economy, bringing manufacturing back to rural Perthshire, enabling local businesses to purchase a range of reasonably priced products from a local service while also supporting a good cause.

Paul said:

Getting onto the LaunchMe programme will allow us to prepare for scaling, increasing productivity and expanding into new markets with a more robust product range rather than our current ‘bespoke’ range. The seed funding will help us take on more staff to increase productivity, buy new equipment and upgrade our premises.

Read more case studies of entrepreneurs who are part of our LaunchMe programme.

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