Andrew Dwerryhouse invested £2m to expand Merseyside brand marketing firm Wild Thang just before the pandemic and the firm has weathered the storm and been rewarded with an award nomination. Tony McDonough reports
Wild Thang founder Andrew Dwerryhouse has spoken of his and his team’s pride at being nominated for a top award after what he described as “the most challenging year in our 25-year-history”.
Andrew, one of Liverpool city region’s best-known entrepreneurs, launched brand marketing specialist Wild Thang with just a £1,500 Princes Trust grant a quarter of a century ago.
Based in Bootle, the business has grown over the years, supplying branded marketing materials to blue chip clients such as Sky Bet, Paddy Power, Wembley Stadium and Liverpool and Everton football clubs.
In 2019 it embarked on a £2m transformation of its headquarters in Derby Road, close to the River Mersey. The project, designed by architects K2 and delivered by main contractor Frank Rogers, was scheduled for completion in 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a severe delay, pushing the delivery back to this year.
Now the development is complete and Andrew says its 33-strong team could double over the next couple of years as Wild Thang put its expansion plans into operation. A number of its clients are in the EU and the team has worked hard to overcome the barriers created by Brexit. The business is also opening a new office in Dublin.
Now, in a vindication of its ambitious strategy, Wild Thang has been shortlisted in the Liverpool Chamber Innovation in Business Awards for the International Award, along with six other companies.
Andrew said: “As for many businesses 2020/21 has been a rollercoaster ride and probably the most challenging year in our 25 year history. So when we found out we were a finalist it really did make the team’s year so far.
“When the pandemic hit, sales fell off a cliff for many areas of our business. But we were determined as a team that we would not be defined as a company by the development, COVID or Brexit. We adapted quickly to ensure we could not only survive, but also thrive as a team and company, so this is a very special moment.
“It certainly has been the perfect storm with the ongoing £2m development of our HQ nearing final completion and the unique challenges that brings, plus add a global pandemic and the troubles Brexit has brought, we got three huge challenges for the price of one.”
Such was the return of confidence by the end of 2020 that the company invested a further £120,000 in new technology that will allow it to print complex designs on fabrics to meet the fast-changing demands of its customers.
“We are so proud as a team we have hopefully now come through that storm with flying colours by adapting to create a unique offer,” added Andrew. “So now we have never been more excited about the future and Wild Thang’s export growth potential.
“We highlighted this in the supporting finalist evidence we provided to the chamber about our plans to grow turnover and our exports by 20-25% in 2022.“We are proud to have retained all staff throughout this challenging time and have already added four new staff to our team over the past month in preparation for that projected growth.”
The Liverpool Chamber Innovation in Business Awards ceremony takes place in November. The winners will be decided by a combination of a judging panel and a public vote. Click here to cast your vote.