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Passion for environment drives innovative Eco-building business Back to News Index

27 Jun 2019
  • Startup
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If you spend just a few minutes in the company of Annabel and Alan Cameron-Duff, you quickly realise that creativity and an absolute passion for the environment underpins their business The Roundhouse Company. The innovative eco-building business primarily supplies beautifully constructed roundhouses and other interesting smaller structures using natural and handcrafted finishes.

With a background in art and interior design, the husband and wife team set up the business in 2016, with some initial support from St Helens Chamber, but the business itself has been over 16 years in the making. Initially inspired by taking a Natural Building Apprenticeship in the USA in 2001, Alan and Annabel had already accumulated years of research and experience in creating buildings from various natural materials such as cob, hemp, straw and timber.

In October 2017, they approached St Helens Chamber and obtained support through the New Enterprise Allowance. They also attended a number of free workshops around financial management and marketing and were also allocated an experienced business mentor who supported them to complete a full business plan.

Annabel commented: “Commercially the Chamber input was invaluable. The completed business plan and advice from the business mentor enabled us to secure initial funding, providing a focus for our future.”
The future certainly looks interesting for The Roundhouse Company, particularly within the Education sector.  The company has not only delivered innovative outdoor classroom spaces but is also working on several modular roundhouse designs suitable for schools.

Annabel commented: “Roundhouses are wonderful education spaces for schools. The very nature of round buildings are inclusive and create a good space for learning. Some schools also use their Roundhouses for community events or rent them out for parties or private functions, which can be a source of revenue, so as well as being an inspiring place to learn, they provide commercial opportunities.”

Quite uniquely, The Roundhouse Company also include educational workshops to schools which they deliver during any project, teaching staff and children all about natural buildings, and sustainability, with educational content centred around the national curriculum.

Alan commented: “There is a lot more to eco-friendly roundhouses...We are conscious of where the materials have come from and aim to source them as locally as possible to minimise the environmental footprint whilst also supporting local businesses.”

The company is also working on other exciting developments including a mobile Eco Pod, a self-contained, insulated unit, created from natural materials, with potential uses such as glamping and bird hides.

Geoff Bates, Business Support Manager from St Helens Chamber commented.

“We think The Roundhouse Company has tremendous potential as a business, with a very strong offer, particularly to schools.  St Helens Chamber has been delighted to work with Alan and Annabel and looks forward to supporting their future growth.”

St Helens Chamber is part of Enterprise Hub, the enterprise gateway for business start-up support in Merseyside.  Offering expert advice and support to anyone thinking about starting a business, including help to:

  • Understand the process of starting a business
  • Research a business idea
  • Build a comprehensive business plan
  • Develop a marketing plan
  • Create financial forecasts to understand the costs of running your  business and potential income
  • Identify sources of finance to get started

Enterprise Hub is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

For more information about The Roundhouse Company, please visit
www.theroundhousecompany.co.uk

For more information about the support available from St Helens Chamber to start a business, call 0845 340 9980 or email startup@sthelenschamber.com 
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