New office for structural engineers

L-R: Jack Merrett, Alice Oultram and Steve Margrove
X The Business Desk

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A York structural engineering consultancy, which has worked with top hotels in London, has moved into new offices to cope with increased demand for its services.

JME Consultants has seen business boom, with profits up more than fourfold in just over a year. Set up by Jack Merrett in 2019, the consultancy has just moved into new offices at Westminster Place just inside the York ring road and has recently landed its 200th project.

Clients range from home-owners to large national construction firms, and include 5 Star hotels in London, with design for swimming pools. JME Consultants have also advised large house building firms over the structure of foundations; designed the remedial works for a footbridge at Northallerton School and Sixth Form College, and designed everything from steel frames for large industrial units to straw bale and eco-friendly homes.

Merrit had worked in the industry for many years, before deciding to set up his own business, with help from his wife Anna Oultram in her spare time. The company currently has one full-time employee, structural engineer Steve Margrove, with plans to take on another within the next few months. JME Consultants also uses three sub-contractors who are experts in CAD design.

“The five-year plan is to get to around ten members of staff, with the longer-term aim of having 20 to 25 staff,” said Jack.

“There is a tendency within the industry to put profit before people. We wanted to establish a business which puts people first, is realistic about workloads and operates with openness and transparency.

“It’s all about keeping standards high and treating everybody well, both clients and staff. We want to create a real collaborative atmosphere, where the people who work here don’t want to leave.”

The company has been given support, including a grant, by AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in York, North and West Yorkshire, and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Jack said: “Neither me nor Anna had run a business before. It was going really well, but we needed someone with a more holistic view. We wanted someone independent to give us advice and a nudge in the right direction, and of course you are not going to turn down funding.”

They were given a grant of about £3,600 from AD:VENTURE, which they had to match-fund, which contributed towards a specialist printer and additional software licences. But Jack says it is not just the funding that has helped.

“It’s an independent voice. They are not doing it for their own needs they are doing it to help you. You never worry that there is an ulterior motive; it’s honest and independent advice which is incredibly valuable.”

AD:VENTURE has funding and delivery partners across the Leeds City Region, including City of York Council and the region’s other eight local authorities; the Business Enterprise Fund; the Prince’s Trust; Leeds Beckett University; West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, and the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership.

Councillor Andrew Waller, Executive Member for Economy and Strategic Planning at City of York Council, said: “It is encouraging to see how job creation in the city can be encouraged through public sector working with the private sector to bring benefits to the city, and the wider region in terms of sustaining employment and developing skills.

“And it’s great to see that a nudge in the right direction by AD:VENTURE can pay dividends in terms of job creation in areas including sustainable construction techniques and green jobs.”

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