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Local Businesses Hear How to Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Local Businesses Hear How to Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

July 6, 2017

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council recently hosted the final Entrepreneurs Network meeting of its 2016-2017 schedule entitled ‘Turning the Ordinary into the Extraordinary’ in the impressive surroundings of Hillsborough Castle. 

Over 65 local businesses attended this annual event to hear from Fraser Doherty MBE, founder of SuperJam and one of the UK’s best known and award winning entrepreneurs; and Mr Richard Johnston, Business Development Executive for Jumping Jack products from Cyril Johnston & Company Ltd.

The Mayor, Councillor Tim Morrow officially welcomed everyone to the Entrepreneurs Network event.  He said: “There is a strong network between the Council and local businesses which has contributed to investment in Lisburn Castlereagh.  The Council area has seen a high level of start-up businesses over recent years; and I encourage local businesses to continue to engage with the Council to obtain support for the development and growth of your business.”

Alderman Allan Ewart, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, said: “It was a fitting conclusion to this year’s calendar of networking events to have two quality speakers such as Fraser and Richard speak of their entrepreneurial experiences.  Undoubtedly they had much to share with local businesses in terms of innovation, product development and leadership gained through their unique journeys.  The Council’s Business Solutions team offers a range of programmes to support local businesses through mentoring, business start-up and trade development.  Richard took part in our Netherlands Trade Programme this year and found it very beneficial to his business. Any business looking to explore new markets please contact the Council to identify opportunities.”

Fraser Doherty MBE spoke about his entrepreneurial journey that began at the young age of 14 when he set up SuperJam using his Granny’s jam recipes.  He has also co-founded successful enterprises Envelope.Coffee and Beer52 and gives back to the local community in the UK through his charitable work ‘SuperJam Tea Parties’ for older people.  Fraser said: “After a few years of making jam in my parent’s kitchen and selling at markets, I was determined at 16 years of age to see my 100% fruit jam on supermarket shelves and pitched my product to Waitrose. 

“While the answer was initially no I was given constructive feedback allowing me to take the next stage of my journey.  Twelve years ago my products started to be sold by Waitrose with over 1,500 jars being sold on the first day in its Edinburgh store.  From there I have entered markets across the world including South Korea and more recently Japan through participating in trade development programmes.

“My story demonstrates how an idea you come up with at home can grow into a career with love and imagination; and hopefully you can give something back to the community in the way my ‘SuperJam Tea Parties’ charity does.  I have been lucky to be able to step back from the daily running of SuperJam due to having great people on my team to take the lead, allowing me to diversify and undertake new projects.  SuperJam was built from a very small sum of money and through commitment and support from suppliers and customers it is now a global success and a fitting tribute to my Gran’s recipes.”

Richard Johnston talked through the history of the family business Cyril Johnston & Company Ltd that has been operating in Carryduff for 60 years.  He said: “Our business is now in its third generation and over the years has diversified from tractors into lawn equipment, boats and motorhomes.  In recent years we have refocused back to our roots in the horticultural sector and have designed our own product range of Gardencare lawnmowers and garden machinery which are now sold through hundreds of retailers throughout Ireland and GB.” 

“Innovation is still a strong focus for us, and in the coming year we will be looking to further develop our Gardencare range of products for the retail and wholesale sectors through the introduction of environmentally friendly battery powered machines.  In terms of diversification we have developed the Jumping Jack product range of mini jump starters and emergency chargers for cars, motorcycles, boats and portable gadgets. These products featured heavily in our recent trip to the Netherlands and were met with great enthusiasm from our prospective distributors.  I see the potential for the Jumping Jack product to be a real winner as it can hold its charge for up to 6 months, and I look forward to further exploring the GB and European markets with it.”

Councillor Uel Mackin, former Chairman of the Development Committee added: “It was a privilege to hear from two inspirational entrepreneurs who have achieved success through sheer determination, drive and ambition.  I am sure many of our guests will go away freshly inspired and with a renewed determination to achieve their entrepreneurial dream. 

“The Council through its Business Solutions Team offers a wide range of assistance to help local companies achieve their true potential.  It is currently developing its new Entrepreneur Network schedule that will commence again in September 2017, and welcomes any ideas for speakers and topics from our business community to provide a first-class programme going forward.”

For further information on the Council’s Business Solutions programmes log onto www.lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk/business_solutions or phone 028 9250 9484.

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