Don Ferguson's business Grafters rescues and recycles valuable resources such as glass, steel, aluminium, slate and textiles whilst cleaning and demolishing properties for housing authorities in Liverpool. It uses a yard to store and recycle raw materials as well as an office to run the business. Ferguson managed to save between £200 and £300 a week for the first six months by getting free premises.
Ferguson's free premises were in Crawford House, a disused territorial army barracks owned by the Granby Toxteth Development Trust. The Trust is a non-profit making organisation designed to help local residents. Local business advisor Dave Petterson inquired about Grafters moving into Crawford House. The deal was done on condition that Ferguson kept the premises in reasonable condition.
Ferguson estimates the free premises saved him between £200 and £300 a week during the six months that he was able to use the premises. Despite being run down, it offered office space and large, open areas to store materials before they were sold.
Unfortunately, the yards are not very secure and some of the salvage equipment had gone missing. Ferguson was forced to reconsider his premises when a fire destroyed much of the property in the yard just before Bonfire night. Ferguson could have moved back in when the damage had been repaired but decided that he needed more secure premises instead.
Ferguson was lucky again with his business premises. He now pays for his yard but has free office space on the same premises, given to him by a friend who is based there. The new yard is much more secure as it not shared and offers gates and a security guard. Ferguson was again able to take advantage of a helping hand from Petterson and uses the office for post and faxes to be delivered. Getting free premises helped Grafters startup without getting into debt – the business is now firmly established and Ferguson has plans for expansion.