National award for Morpeth-based drainage business

Tricia Craig, centre, receives her award from bfa chief executive Pip Wilkins, left, and Andrew Brattesani, UK head of franchising for HSBC, at the ceremony in Birmingham.
Tricia Craig, centre, receives her award from bfa chief executive Pip Wilkins, left, and Andrew Brattesani, UK head of franchising for HSBC, at the ceremony in Birmingham.

A Morpeth businesswoman has won a prestigious national accolade in recognition of an impressive period of growth for her franchise.

Tricia Craig co-founded drainage business Metro Rod Newcastle, covering Northumberland as well, in 1999 and took overall control of it in 2013 by buying out her business partner.

Now branded Metro Rod North East, it also incorporates Sunderland and Middlesbrough and has an annual turnover of £1.3million.

The 51-year-old was named Female Franchisee of the Year at the British Franchise Association’s 2016 bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards ceremony in Birmingham.

The business moved to a rented unit at Coopies Lane in the early 2000s and it then secured its own larger premises on the industrial estate as it successfully grew.

It became Metro Rod North East after taking on the Sunderland area in 2004 and the franchise continued to employ additional staff and invest in new equipment during the recession years.

In 2011, it extended its coverage to Middlesbrough and the three employees in that area were transferred through the TUPE process.

Things have gone extremely well since Tricia took sole ownership. It has enjoyed a dramatic upturn in turnover of more than 30 per cent each year since 2014.

She said: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed to receive such a prestigious award.

“I’m proud for the whole team. Everyone works as hard as I do and as I like to share our successes with the team, I bought beers and Prosecco for them to enjoy at home after winning the award.

“I believe in giving excellent customer service to all our customers and will not accept anything less.

“Being able to provide a genuine 24-hour service has also helped us win customers.

“It’s important to keep investing in new technology and ensure that equipment is continually updated to ensure we deliver great service time and time again. We use local businesses where possible for materials and services.

“I’m a woman working in a predominantly male environment, which could be a problem if I allowed it to be. So I don’t. I’m proud that I’m respected by my employees and fellow franchisees (who are predominantly male).”

Tricia has also added a Metro Plumb franchise to her portfolio this year. She now has 20 employees in total.

“We saw that there is a gap in the market for a plumber to deal with smaller issues such as leaking taps or pipe work,” she said.

“I hope to take on an apprentice for the Metro Plumb business in the next year.”

Tricia is also a keen supporter of local charities, from veterans groups to countryside-focused organisations.

Pip Wilkins, bfa chief executive, said: “As judges we felt genuinely inspired by Tricia’s ability to adapt and grow throughout all market conditions, while maintaining a focus on her team throughout.

“To have expanded her business through good times and bad over 17 years shows a rare resilience and tenacity, which is why she excels as an entrepreneur.”

Andrew Brattesani, UK head of franchising for HSBC, added: “The standard of our four finalists in this category was exceptional, so to win highlights how impressive Tricia’s business is. Her continual re-investment, development of services and understanding of her market place are examples any business owner would do well to follow.”