Ten years on from starting out as ThirdWay Interiors, which was founded as a reaction to bad practice it had seen in the industry, today ThirdWay Group consists of five other separate entities, all of which have been built on the same values that helped create the original business in 2009. The fact that it was recently named in the top ten of The Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For underlines the progress the company has been making and the impression it has made on the marketplace.
“D&B had a bad rep for not delivering what was promised, only being interested in upselling, and managers having a hands-off approach,” explains Ben Gillam, Founder/Owner. “ThirdWay Interiors is and has always been about people, putting our customers first and delivering outstanding quality and reliable service. Because of this approach, our core customer was the occupier and Cat B was our staple for many years. By 2016, however, we were being approached by a lot of landlords and delivering Cat A jobs too.”
Due to the interest the business was attracting, it made sense to capitalise on this demand and broaden its sphere of influence into the landlord/developer arena.
“The Aircraft Factory in Hammersmith really put us on the landlord/developer map,” adds Ben. “It made sense, in time, and having found the right team to lead it, to establish ThirdWay Architecture, a traditional architecture studio that is independent of ThirdWay Interiors but also has the flexibility to collaborate and exploit the speed and agility of a D&B business model. ThirdWay Group was then founded as an umbrella company to both Interiors and Architecture. Since then we have grown to establish several further entities within the Group.
“ThirdWay Contracts are a traditional contractor for our clients who choose a traditional procurement process; IV Real Estate focuses on asset management and development; Tribe is a furniture consultancy business who work very closely with ThirdWay Interiors; and Dthree are a D&B collaboration with Devono Cresa. All are independent businesses that can be engaged alone or as a group by our clients. The result is a company that spans the industry and can offer end-to-end services, specialising in the workplace.”
Having continually grown and evolved since its creation, ThirdWay Group now has a workforce of over 160 employees helping to generate turnover of around £62m a year. The diversity of the knowledge and expertise within the Group has enabled it to tackle a wide-ranging list of projects including Revolut, which involved challenging norms of the financial sector workplace; Chapter House, which involved the complete repositioning, refurbishment and extension of a Victorian School Building in Old Street; the development of Vodafone’s headquarters in Paddington, as well other contracts for the likes of Red Bull and Huddle.
“Our customers mainly consist of tenants & landlords/developers, but because of our niche business model and flexibility of independent entities, our client base also covers those on the project management side within construction and architecture industries,” outlines Ben. “Our focus always remains on the end user though and this is more relevant now than ever before.
“In terms of the opportunities we’re seeing, the current market is exciting. Landlords, developers, institutional real estate developers are realising that they need to capture the attention of tenants by creating destinations, not just spaces, and by bringing technology into the working environment. This is not only to enhance the experience for customers but also to make managing their property portfolios easier by using data to drive their decisions. With this excitement comes challenges; they all want to stay ahead of the game and there is a sense of continual re-invention and boundary-pushing. Owning a company with a largely millennial workforce who pride themselves on being innovative is creating vast opportunities for us.”
This ability to keep its finger firmly pressed to the pulse, not to mention its appetite for continual evolution, is enabling ThirdWay Group to make the most of the potential the marketplace is currently providing.
“The industry has changed and the commercial property sector place is led by the occupier rather than the developer. Landlords and developers need to consider tenants as customers not just occupiers, offering a service rather than just a lease agreement. This is a direct result of the rise in co-working space that brought competition to the market.
“What we’re seeing now is businesses moving away from co-working space so they have their own premises and more control over their environment. Landlords and developers are therefore having to be innovative to meet the modern occupier’s needs.”
It’s not just its flair for innovation that is allowing ThirdWay Group to flourish so strongly in the current climate, as its ‘joined up thinking’ approach is also proving to be the perfect solution for the requirements of the modern marketplace. “Our ability to offer independent or collaborative services that span the industry is real plus for us a business, particularly as it means we can provide cradle to grave solutions in many cases. As a group, we think harder and work smarter to reduce risk, speed up processes, improve agility, champion progressive thinking and consider best value. We’re as commercially aware as we are creative and deliver quality and confidence.
“However, what makes ThirdWay truly different is our people. A powerful mix of creators and innovators with a hunger for knowledge and insatiable curiosity means we are continually improving what we do and how we do it. This innovative and progressive mind-set is allowing us to set new standards for service, value and creativity across the entire property industry.”
Despite the upward trajectory it has been on for the past ten years, ThirdWay Group remains mindful of the hurdles it is having to contend with, particularly as any prolonged period of expansion can be something of a double-edged sword.
“As a company we have seen significant growth in recent years. Our workforce has grown by two-thirds in the last year and with our own culture and well-being being so critical to business output, we have a challenge to maintain the original family feel despite having over 160 employees. We therefore focus on employee wellbeing, insist on attendance by all at weekly team meetings, which is always followed by an opportunity to stick around and have a drink; helping to nurture and cement relationships and the ‘wolf pack’ mentality we’re known for. We take the happiness of our people very seriously and they enjoy lots of perks, many of which are centred around the community and togetherness of the team.”
Such a thoughtful and accommodating ethos has not only helped ThirdWay Group manage the growth it has enjoyed so far, but is also paving the way for future expansion.
“The aim of the business remains the same as it always has: to keep being ‘third way’, to do things differently to push the envelope, look for new ways to disrupt the industry for the better, pioneering technology and innovation in the workplace,” concludes Ben. “There is huge opportunity for us to expand within our sector and cross sector and we are actively looking to expand into retail, leisure, industrial, regional and international markets.”
Given the progress it has made over the past ten years and the experience and know-how it has accumulated in the process; ThirdWay Group is well primed to keep the success story going as it writes the next chapter in its development as a business.