Case study

Whitehouse Construction benefits from our manufacturing expertise

Civil Engineering firm, Whitehouse Construction, is working with manufacturing experts from our University, to upscale production of its new 'flood door' product. This is all down to funded support from the Derbyshire Accelerator programme.

About Whitehouse Construction

Whitehouse Construction is based in Derby with two sites in Ashbourne and Chaddesden. They provide civil engineering solutions ranging from £500 to £5 million. In the last 15 years, it has also advanced its expertise in Property Flood Resilience (PFR) and has been manufacturing 'flood doors' and other protection solutions, as part of Environment Agency and/or Lead Local Flood Authority-led PFR schemes.

Whitehouse Construction logo

Why the company wanted support

Whitehouse has spent several years developing its flood door product, ensuring it meets the British Standard. Now this had been achieved, the firm wanted to turn its attention to how the manufacturing process for this product could be made more efficient to scale up production.

Managers heard about the Derbyshire Accelerator scheme from their contacts at the University of Derby, and saw an opportunity to get the support they needed. Jo Ewart-Sear, Chair of Whitehouse, explains:

"We thought it would be really good to partner with Derby make our manufacturing processes slicker and better and really more efficient ultimately, so we can deliver more flood doors and make more units here at this production facility."

The support received

The PFR team at Whitehouse is currently receiving support from Dr Hirbod Varasteh, a manufacturing expert at the University. They had an initial meeting with Hirbod, and gave him information about their door manufacturing processes and the layout of their manufacturing facility — work areas, assembly areas, storage areas etc. Hirbod is now reviewing that information and will provide Whitehouse with recommendations on how it can improve the way it works.

Ian Pitt, PFR Business Manager said: "The industry’s very new  — but looking to be mainstream by 2025 — so there’s still a lot to learn. This process should help will hopefully provide us with some improvements that we can make to help improve our efficiencies and outputs. The bottom line is helping more communities and people that are at risk [of flooding]."

A Whitehouse manufacturing facility

The impact it's had

The support is still ongoing but Jo can already see the benefits: "It will really help to upscale the manufacture here and really get the best use out of the workspace we’ve got….the University of Derby have helped us massively and provided expertise that we simply don’t have in-house."

Jo also says that being made aware of funded schemes like Derbyshire Accelerator is really helpful to busy SMEs like Whitehouse, who can feel overwhelmed by the complex funding landscape and who don't have time to trawl though all the different opportunities. She had this message for other SMEs:

"I’d say to any business that wasn’t quite sure, just reach out and have a conversation — it costs nothing and it can really benefit the business going forward."

Watch an interview with Whitehouse

Close-up of Jo Ewart-Sear and Ian Pitt

View How Derbyshire Accelerator benefitted Whitehouse video transcript

About Derbyshire Accelerator

Derbyshire Accelerator was one strand of the East Midlands Accelerator Programme. East Midlands Chamber led the programme, with other partners in Derbyshire including our University, Derbyshire County Council, Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire and The Food and Drink Forum. The project was part-funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund.

Derbyshire Accelerator has now closed but you can explore our other funded support programmes for businesses.