Jigsaw was born out of a simple need to make some home improvements
Glenn, my dad, after twelve years of living in Spain decided to buy a luxury penthouse apartment in the Midlands. Like any new home it needed a little decoration. The one thing that really didn’t fit in with the décor was the huge, ugly night storage heaters. These actually nearly put my dad off purchasing the property.
For those that don’t have them, they are these quite large metal boxes full of blocks with a heating element in the middle. They are in every room and they warm up in the evening on a cheaper tariff at night. Then slowly through the day they slowly release the heat from the blocks into the air. The actual affect is that your home is hot in the evening when you are in bed, part of the day when you are at work and by mid afternoon/early evening you are having to turn them on again at peak tariff costs to boost the room. Plus, they can start to smell as they get older from dust trapped inside.
So, what were the options for my dad? With no gas in the building the choices are limited. Replace them with new storage heaters, install convection heaters or look for something else. My dad doesn’t often choose the easy route. He chose to look for something else. This led him to research Infrared Heating and eventually buying some panel based ones with controllers.
The next step was to get someone to install them. Sounds easy right?!?! Not many electricians have heard of them or installed them six years ago. Even due to this, the panels were installed and worked well. Really well actually. The apartment was warmer, there was no odour, the system was more controllable and the electric bills had gone down. On my first visit after they had been installed I didn’t know what they were or how they worked. My dad explained the whole process that he went through to get them installed, which was quite involved, but he was glad that he had done it.
The lightbulb moment
We both remember that weekend as we sat in the kitchen looking at the heaters discussing the possibilities of streamlining the process by offering a complete service to measure, supply, install and add a better control system. Within a few weeks we had formed an initial business outline, discussed early investment and over a very nice Sunday breakfast in a local pub come up with the name and designed the logo. For information, the idea of Jigsaw came from a number of services that we were going to offer from the onset of the business. All of these being modular additions to any property.
The first two years of Jigsaw were all about market research, planning, experimentation and developing the service that we ourselves would be happy to receive. We tested products from a range of suppliers including panels heaters and glass, thermostats, control hubs, outdoor heating and high power heating. Like any SME we had issues along the way. Solving those and moving forward became exciting and pushed us on to the next steps.
By year three we had gained good traction and we were frequently installing a range of products in domestic and industrial buildings and the business was doing OK. After three and half years of Jigsaw being my side project I left my teaching career of 12+ years and moved to Jigsaw full time. Glenn also started to spend a lot more time working, even though he was retired. We had made a commitment and building a successful business that we were proud of became our main focus.
How did that pan out?
We started taking on staff and doing exhibitions like Grand Designs and the Homebuilding and Renovation shows. Installations were quickly becoming whole house installations rather than one or two rooms. Commercial work like dentists and churches were becoming frequent additions. We had a great and understanding electrician that has supported us since day one. The learning curve was steep but we were making improvements to the products we supplied and the installations. We were finding our market and we installing heaters in the UK and Spain with great reviews. The next thing for Jigsaw was the products themselves. We saw options of designing the our own range of heaters. Then COVID hit in early 2020 and things changed really rapidly!
I remember sitting in the upstairs of our first office and we were considering what to do if a national lockdown was announced. That same day we took our equipment home knowing that we were possibly going to be working from home indefinitely.
What did we do? We didn’t stop working
Training, upskilling, working on products with universities, developing links with control suppliers and researching. During the first lockdown we designed, developed, manufactured and tested two whole product ranges. The Glass and Aluminium heaters were the product of that. Made in the UK by our partner manufacturers. It wasn’t easy and logistically it was quite a challenge. Holding manufacturing meetings over Zoom and Teams rather than working together over the piece of material you are discussing.
The installations have carried on safely during and in between lockdowns and the products have been receiving great reviews. This kept us going through challenging times for all families and businesses.
What are the next steps for Jigsaw?
The Government have taken considerable steps to ban the installation of Gas boilers into new properties from 2025. The Future Homes Report states that Electric heating supplied by power from renewable sources is the future. The decarbonisation of our heating systems and homes reducing them to Net Zero by 2050 is an ambitious goal for the 60+ million people that live in the UK today. Major changes are going to have to happen for this to be achieved.
Jigsaw has grown rapidly but the core value has always been to provide a service and keep people warm, comfortable and energy efficient. The next steps will be to offer a full range of ways to decarbonise your home not by 2050 but much sooner. Why? Because we must! Jigsaw will do this by not just by improving the heating and control system but also hot water, insulation, air quality and adding renewable clean energy. We are already working with ambitious home builders and developers to put this in to practise now.
The reason for naming the business Jigsaw was all about providing a modular way to update your homes and the linked services to improve the energy efficiency..
Not too bad within 5 years of starting a business around a kitchen table!