A former SSI worker is cleaning up in business after receiving support from the SSI Task Force.
Former Royal Navy sailor, David Connor, 47, had a high-powered job as an Energy Distribution Controller at SSI steelworks in Redcar before it closed down in 2015.
With two mortgages and three children to support, David had applied for hundreds of jobs before taking on a carpet, upholstery and floor-cleaning franchise.
“We haven’t looked back since,” said David of Ingleby Barwick, near Stockton, who explained he has the Zero Dry Time floor cleaning franchise for the DL postcode based around the Darlington area. “It’s just taken off beyond all our expectations and it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.
“My wife, Suzanne works at Boulby Potash Mine, but we had a bit of bad luck when we lost a tenant at our other property at the same time as I lost my job. I applied for between 400 and 600 jobs and money was incredibly tight.
“It was a worrying time and we were looking to sell both our properties. Then the opportunity for the Zero Dry Time franchise came along and, I must say, the SSI Task Force team were wonderful in helping us get it off the ground. It wasn’t just the financial support but the expertise which made such a difference.
“The business was a bit slow at first, but then it just took off. It was things they talked about at the SSI Task Force business start-up support, like the leafleting and thinking about marketing which made such a difference.”
David, originally from Middlesbrough and who has a teenage son and two step-children, worked at the steelworks for 12 years. At first he worked in security and then the medical centre before finally becoming an Energy Distribution Controller for eight years. The important role involved monitoring 250 screens, the coke ovens and furnace.
“It was a highly stressful job and Suzanne says, ‘you’re a changed man,’ since I took on the cleaning business and I’ve never been happier,” said David, who served in the Gulf War after joining the navy aged 16. “I love meeting people and have a great relationship with my customers.”
David explained that cleaning technique involves cleaning carpets, but also stone flags, tiles and even leather and other upholstery and wood floors. “The outside, stone flag business has taken off beyond belief,” he said. “It’s a dry clean and the difference it makes is amazing.”
Amanda Skelton, chief executive of Redcar & Cleveland Council and chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “I’m delighted for David and his family.
“They have worked so hard at making this business work and their success is thoroughly deserved. I am so pleased that Task Force was able to give them help to get this successful business established.”