On March 17th we celebrated 10 years of being in business and we thought it would be fun to tell you a little bit about the journey so far…
It all began back in the Summer of 2011. Having spent the last decade working in the building industry Jamie was keen to finally start his own company. With expertise in interior remodelling a kitchen business seemed like a good fit. He approached a really good friend of his, Ed, and asked if he wanted to be a part of the business. Ed was fully on board from day one. Next they started their journey on finding a company that shared their passion and enthusiasm for designing and building beautiful and unique kitchens.
Hacker in Germany
Hacker are a high-end German kitchen company. A friend recommended them so Jamie and Ed flew out to their factory in Germany. They were blown away by the quality and the engineering that went into the kitchen cabinetry.
“… it was looked more like a place where they made cars than kitchens. The level of automation and the sheer efficiency and precision were like nothing we had ever seen.” Jamie, on his first visit to Hacker’s factory in Rhodinghasen, Germany
Added to this the company itself was brilliant, combining industry leading logistics with high levels of innovation. A few beers later and a deal was done; Black Rok had officially begun.The second thing was to find a premise that would work for a kitchen showroom. After a few false starts they settled on Uckfield, East Sussex. The premises were not in a good state but with a lot of hard work the showroom started to come to life and the display Kitchens were installed.
Showroom January 2012
Finally, it was ready and the showroom opened its’ doors for the very first time in March 2012.
The first year
The first year is always the hardest but it didn’t take long before the phone started to ring and customers wanted to come and visit the showroom. They designed a lot of kitchens in that first year and luckily, managed to sell a few too!
“… I think the thing is, when you start out, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s kind of a good thing. Nothing can really prepare you for starting your own business. You prepare as much as you can, but sooner or later you just have to cast the anchors aside and set sail. Looking back it was all such a whirlwind of learning-by-doing, we’d get somethings right and often times quite a few things wrong, but you just try and make it to the next day. Hopefully a little wiser and always a little greyer!” Jamie, on the first year in business.
And so it goes on…
Since that first year, time has rolled on by and Black Rok have gone on to sell hundreds of kitchens. Styles might have changed but the same passion and commitment that started the business all those years ago still run true today.
Now with business, not everything always goes right. It is about trial and error. The business was going really well and an idea to open a second showroom was planned. A new premise was found in Heathfield and the installation process started. In February 2016 Black Rok opened it’s second showroom. Unfortunately, it was harder to manage two showrooms than they expected, and coupled with a difficult economic climate the decision was made to close the Heathfield showroom less than a year after it had opened.
“… Fail fast. I remember hearing that somewhere and now, when I think back, I am so glad we made those difficult decisions so quickly and acted as fast as we did. Everything went against us that year, the market slowed down and suddenly costs were mounting up. I’d really lead the charge to open another showroom so it was hard at the time, to admit it was the wrong decision.” Jamie, on closing Heathfield.
With efforts focused back solely on Uckfield we set about making that showroom even better. As Hacker continued to innovate the showroom evolved, with new displays to show the very latest ideas. In the end, and for now at least, one great showroom beats two OK showrooms.
Satin White and Graphite Kitchen 2021
No sooner had we managed our way through the dramas of Brexit then Covid struck. No business, big or small, has been able to escape the impact of the pandemic, with months of restrictions and lockdowns it has been a hard few years. Luckily we had several projects on-going so this helped us through the early stages. And then as the restrictions started to ease suddenly business really took-off. As people could not go away on holiday they spent their money on their homes and a mini boom took place within the kitchen world. The only problem this time was the semi-conductor shortage, things like ovens became impossible to get. But in the grand scheme of things, we got of lightly. So many people lost loved ones and so many businesses had to close their doors for good. We are just lucky and happy to say we survived and as ever thankful for all our customers.
“… and in the end what have I learned so far. Well, probably that being in business, no matter how big or small, is all about surviving to fight another day. It seems you are never far from the next recession or the next big, as yet unimagined crisis, but each and everyday you get to unlock the door turn on the lights is another great day. The first ten years has been one hell of an adventure, I can’t wait for the next. ” Jamie, on lessons from the first ten years.
Happy 1o Years to Black Rok Kitchen Design
Thank you to our amazing kitchen fitters who work very hard fitting all the kitchens and being part of the black rok team. Big shout out to Zak, Jake and Ed.
Thank you to Graham who works behind the scenes on our website.
Thank You to Our brilliant Kitchen Designers and Business owners Jamie and Ed.
From all of us at Black Rok kitchens we just want to say a big thank you to all our past present and future customers and to all our friends and family for your support over the last ten years.