If the global financial crisis prompted Britons to tighten their belts, then surely a company specialising in tennis court design and construction would have struggled in the recession?
“We have been fortunate in that our reputation has seen us maintain and even increase our turnover to around £2.5m throughout the recession of the last few years,” Andy Burrell, managing director Chiltern Sports, told TIA UK News.
“We believe that it is testament to our consistently high performance that a significant proportion of our work is repeat business or referrals from existing clients.”
Having been trading since the late 90s, Chiltern Sports (part of the Chiltern Group) has established itself as one of the country’s leading specialists for the design, construction and maintenance of tennis courts.
Working with local authorities, tennis clubs, schools and private individuals, the company offers a full range of services from initial consultations through design, construction and renovation as well offering fencing and floodlighting together with a range of surfaces.
“We pride ourselves in working with rather than for our clients and every project whether a small refurbishment for a private client or a major multi-court new construction receives the same dedicated service from our team,” Burrell said.
“We work with our clients, often amending the design to suit their requirements, altering our programme and phasing works on multi-court projects to provide court usage.”
“Every project is different,” he added. “We can commence as quickly as two weeks from the initial enquiry and at the other extreme it can be up to two years when planning permission is required or clubs are sourcing funding from the LTA or elsewhere.”
Chiltern Sports recently completed a project at Great Missenden Tennis Club in Buckinghamshire, designing and constructing a bank of three premium synthetic clay courts, a project that cost £130,000 (part-funded by the LTA) and took 10 weeks.
“The works comprised of extensive groundworks to replace some tiring natural turf courts into a bank of three championship-sized top quality courts,” Burrell said. “Works were completed on time and under budget.
“The primary factor which can drive up the cost of a new build project is poor ground conditions where an engineered solution is required for the base.
“Sometimes the outcome may be different from the initial brief but this is when a client may later decide to upgrade the surfaces of a court, for example from sprayed Macadam to synthetic grass, or they might want to update the type of fencing from basic chainlink.
“In the outset we will visit the site and take the clients’ brief then offer our proposed design solution or alternative solutions. Our senior estimator deals with all matters pre-contract and then the contracts director oversees all matters post-contract.”
In spite of the unpredictable British climate, business has become more consistent over the years.
“The sports construction business used to be seasonal with little work being done during the winter months,” Burrell added. “However, that has changed and we are increasingly working consistently throughout the year.
“The summer months, and in particular the school holiday periods remain the periods of highest demand when we can have up to ten significant projects running concurrently.”
Chiltern Sports joined the Tennis Industry Association in late 2012 in a bid to raise the company profile within the industry, but Burrell admits he has enjoyed the social aspect of TIA events.
“We believe it is important that all aspects of the tennis industry are represented by the organisation and hope we have added to that,” Burrell said.
“As a result we hope to raise our company profile within the industry generally, but have also vastly enjoyed meeting other members from all parts of the industry at the various events throughout the year and long may it continue!”
Burrell, who along with Contracts Manager Kevin Dixon attended the Lawn Tennis Writers’ Association annual lunch as a guest of the TIA, successfully bid for a signed Serena Williams tennis racket in the charity auction raising money for the Royal Marsden Hospital.
“Initially we bid for Andy Murray’s shirt but we were outbid by his mum! The racket was a second choice,” Burrell said.
“It was a gift for one of our long-standing regular clients and we would much rather our money went to a good cause than simply purchasing from a dealer.”