Micro Business of the Year: Handrail Creations interview

Kenny Macfarlane, managing director of Handrail Creations and winner of the Micro Business of the Year at the British Small Business Awards, tells us what winning the award means to him.

Handrail Creations won the Micro Business of the Year award at the 2016 British Small Business Awards.

Handrail Creations designs, manufactures and installs bespoke timber handrails for residential and commercial projects of all sizes and designs.

The judges recognised the remarkable skill involved in producing Handrail Creations’ products. Winning large contracts and generating a £400,000 turnover in the first year of business were also significant factors in the company’s victory.

How did the company start?

My background is in 3D design, and I used to lead a business unit specialising in timber handrails. I had bigger ambitions, so eventually I started Handrail Creations.

What were the barriers you faced in the beginning?

As a manufacturing outfit, the start-up capital was a big one for us, but I presented a forecast to the bank and they gave us a loan.

In the early days the challenge was how best to make our product. We always knew the quality had to be nothing short of spectacular, but the problem was how to make it efficiently and quickly. We’ll always be on that learning curve; we really push our engineers not to get comfortable or complacent.

What have been your major achievements so far?

We’ve worked on some amazing projects; from the Houses of Parliament to the Google HQ and from celebrities’ homes to the biggest Apple store in Europe. We’ve also been shortlisted for a number of other business and manufacturing awards.

If you could change something in the early days of your business, what would it be?

Honestly, nothing. I’m not saying we’ve got everything right, far from it. As clichéd as it sounds, we have learnt a lot from the mistakes we have made as part of our growth – from keeping on top of paperwork to understanding characteristics of different hardwoods, and even understanding the pros and cons of working night shifts.

Where do you think you and Handrail Creations will be in five years’ time?

I will still be at the coalface of the business; I have a vision to build this company into the UK ‘go-to’ brand in the sector. We have recently doubled our office and factory space with a view to investing in more machinery in the near future, and we also intend to bring on more staff and have a mid-management tier, which will be a huge step for us in driving the business forward.

Has the success of Handrail Creations changed your lifestyle?

My friends, my family and my partner have come into their own since starting the business, and any time I’m away from work I spend with them. The 60, 70 or 80-hour weeks are always worth it when you have that.

What advice would you give to others thinking of starting their own business?

Be prepared for long hours, really get people to buy in to your dream and take them with you, you’ll need them.

Further reading on Small Business of the Year

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the Smallbusiness.co.uk and Growthbusiness.co.uk titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the Express.co.uk.

Related Topics


Leave a comment