Standing the test of time

Caption: George, Tristan, John, Tom and Gordon Hulbert

Harrogate-based Yorkshire Care Equipment celebrated an impressive 45 years in business in December 2017, with the family-run company growing substantially in that time.

Starting life in a shop in Headingley, Leeds in 1972, Yorkshire Care Equipment has been providing mobility and care products to people across the North of England ever since.

After the original owner fell ill and had to sell the business, the Hulbert family took over Yorkshire Care Equipment in 1995. Led by Duncan Hulbert and his two sons, Gordon and John, the company grew until eventually it was forced to move to its bigger Harrogate.

Now retired from the business, Duncan said: "I thoroughly enjoyed running Yorkshire Care Equipment and working in the healthcare industry. Besides the satisfaction of being in a growing company with a growing market, there was the additional pleasure of being able to improve the quality of life of our customers and earn their appreciation.”

Today, Yorkshire Care has over 25 members of staff and is managed by six of Duncan’s grandsons and is continuing to search for new ways to enhance the quality of life for its clients.

Tom Hulbert, the current CEO of Yorkshire Care, said: "I took over as CEO five years ago. It was such an exciting time for the business as me, my brothers and cousins could see the potential in the company and it had been a huge part of our lives for as long as we could remember.

"We’ve got big plans in the pipeline, and we want to see the business treble in size by 2020. Our family shares the same passion to see Yorkshire Care grow, so I’m confident that we can achieve this and continue to enhance the quality of life for all our clients.”

Caption: Tom & George Hulbert with the Lento

A key part of the company’s big plans to reach its ambitious growth goals is the launch of its own range of products to tackle issues in the healthcare sector. Earlier in 2017, the company launched their own Care Chair called the Lento.

Tom spoke to THIIS about what inspired the company to branch into creating products.

"We have many years of experience in specialist seating and have seen a need for a product that is very adjustable so that products don’t have to be specially manufactured for each individual,” he explained.

"Along with this, there is a real need for a value for money chair that is available from stock and this has been another factor for us in this project.”

Tom now believes that Yorkshire Care has a versatile product that is designed to be adjusted to suit 80% of the population from a chair that the company is able to keep in stock.

Having worked with healthcare professionals including OTs and physios over numerous years, Yorkshire Care Equipment’ seating assessors wanted to create a chair that could fill a market gap after gaining insights into the shortcomings of typical care chair.

"We have been able to control the design of the features that we feel are needed on the product, as well as create a chair to suit the budget of our customers,” Tom told THIIS.

"We have been able to get our complete wish list for a care chair combined into one chair!”

With a strong existing customer base for this type of specialist seating and with a team of eight assessors on the road providing assessments for specialist seating, as well as two assessors in its Harrogate store, Yorkshire Care Equipment is no stranger to specialist seating.

According to the company, it was this experience in the field, working with healthcare professionals over numerous years, that ensured the company could create a chair that could better meet the needs of customers and the market.

Although the company had the knowledge of what would make the ideal product, Tom explained some of the challenges faced when manufacturing a product.

"One factor has been the time needed to come up with a product that we are 100% happy with. The process has been time-consuming but we are now very pleased with the end result. Making sure we keep the final result and big picture in mind throughout the project has been important.”

Tom continued: "Trials have been excellent and initial sales have far exceeded our forecasts. Customers are loving the way we have a great chair available immediately.”

With 45-years of success already behind Yorkshire Care and impressive growth ambitions for the future, the company looks set to continue to see success into the next 45-year.

Tom is playing his cards close to his chest about new products in the pipeline.

"It’s a secret! We do have other ideas and products in the pipeline but these are currently under wraps – watch this space!”