'I left school at 15 and was made redundant - now I have a million-pound business'

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 26 Mar 2018

Being made redundant is a terrifying prospect for many.

In the words of a Hull business director, it can make some feel like “a victim,” and can cause others “to retreat and not look for other jobs".

But for Daniel Haley, director of electrical and mechanical engineering company GW Power Safe, losing his job in 2014 was the first step to running a company which is set to turn over £1.25m this year.

Mr Haley, 29, said: “It was on the cards for a while. I was working at the time as an electrical contracts manager.

“I was obviously absolutely gutted to lose my job, and I was more concerned about the people I was managing than myself.

“It does not have to be the end of the world though. I always think it is better to see it as an opportunity to start again, and that is what I did.”

Mr Haley launched GW Power in 2014, and started out with a team of three.

In the first year of business, the company turned over £166,000.

Today, the company has 18 employees, and is predicted to turn over £1.25m in June.

The Hull-born director, who grew up on the Boothferry estate, spoke about his foundations in business.

The GW Power-Safe team. From left: Mike Sylvester, Daniel Haley, Sharon Young, Luke Howlett, Rob Dixon and Amy Mumby (Image: Jerome Ellerby)

“I left school quite early at the age of 15,” Mr Haley said.

“It just was not the right place for me, so I went and got onto an apprenticeship and then went back to school just to sit my exams.

“I think I left with a B in maths – I’ve always been good with numbers – and something like a D in English, and that was about it.

“I qualified as an electrician within three years, which was a year earlier than it should have been, and was asked to work in the office at my old company to cover for a manager who was off.

“That manager did not come back, and at the age of 22 I ended up taking that job on.”

Director of GW Power-Safe, Daniel Haley, started the company in 2014 after being made redundant(Image: Jerome Ellerby)

Fast-forward to 2014, and Mr Haley had been made redundant.

He launched GW Power and began renting the office out he had worked in at his previous company.

Around a year-and-a-half ago – as part of the business’ expansion – Mr Haley moved to GW Power’s current home in Brighton Street, west Hull.

The business has been contracted for some large-scale projects across Hull and the region, but the director has dreams of expanding further.

Speaking more about redundancy, Mr Haley said: “I think sometimes people get stuck in a job they don’t really want to be in, but they are comfortable.

“I sort of think – and it sounds really cheesy – but you see people who are not happy get made redundant, and it is sort of a blessing in disguise.

“The uncertainty is scary, but I know lots of people who have been made redundant and have now got miles better jobs.”

Daniel Haley's business is set to turn over £1.25m (Image: Jerome Ellerby)

While Mr Haley said being made redundant had provided a springboard to launching GW Power, becoming an apprentice after leaving school was what laid the foundations.

“The key thing for me was getting that apprenticeship. It is always in the back of my mind now that it is something I can fall back on," he said.

“It was the best decision I think I have ever made. I can’t stress enough how important apprentices can be to businesses.

“I have got some really good young lads working for me at the moment, and the sad thing is I have so many people ringing up looking for apprenticeships, and I am having to turn them away.

“There just are not enough places available for apprentices to go in Hull at the moment, and they can a fantastic addition to a business.”

Since being made redundant and launching GW Power, Mr Haley has doubled the turnover of the business every year.

Both the company and its director have received recognition for the incredible success.

In November last year, GW Power scooped best small business of the year at the Mail’s Business Awards.

The company was also highly commended in the contractor of the year category at the Electrical Industry Awards.

On a personal level, Mr Haley was named as one of the best young achievers in the city in the Mail’s 2016 Business Awards.

Mr Haley said he is now seeking some support to help move the business to a new home, as part of plans to keep growing to bigger and better things.

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