Mersey entrepreneur’s ‘most challenging year’ ever

Andrew Dwerryhouse was overseeing a £2m transformation of his Liverpool business, Wild Thang, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020 – he tells the story of his year. Tony McDonough reports

Wild Thang
Wild Thang founder and managing director, Andrew Dwerryhouse. Picture by Tony McDonough

 

Liverpool entrepreneur and founder of brand specialist Wild Thang, Andrew Dwerryhouse, says the last 12 months have been the “most challenging year in our company’s history”.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Wild Thang was in the final stages of a £2m transformation of its headquarters, close to Liverpool’s northern docklands. When the first lockdown was announced, the business had to quickly figure out how it could continue to trade while keeping its staff safe.

Launched with a £1,500 Princes Trust grant by managing director Andrew more than 20 years ago, Wild Thang manufactures and supplies a full range of branded marketing materials. Its blue-chip clients have included Sky Bet, Paddy Power, Wembley Stadium and Liverpool and Everton football clubs.

Since the beginning its story has been of growth and innovation and Andrew is one of the best-known SME entrepreneurs in Merseyside. But he admits the challenges of the pandemic presented a stern test for the resilience of his business.

“It has without doubt been the most challenging year in our company’s history. But we were determined from the start to make sure it was not going to define us as a team or company, and that we Wild Thang would not only survive, but thrive.

“We are incredibly proud as a company and as a team that we continued to try and make a difference in our community both personally and as a business.

“Our NHS awareness and fundraising campaign was our highlight and really gave us something positive to focus on with the belief as a team that we could all make a difference to not only Wild Thang but also making sure those NHS heroes knew they would never walk alone.”

Andrew has also given a big thank you to his clients that kept faith with the company. He added: “With infection rates falling and the vaccine rollout having a real impact hopefully we can look forward to the future with new hope, confidence and ambition that a return to normality is on the horizon.”

To mark the 12 months since the first lockdown, Andrew has compiled a timeline of Wild Thang’s experience through the pandemic, with a picture to accompany each one:

1 Lockdown Begins For Wild Thang 

March 23, 2020, and our company lockdown begins. No-one could imagine that the pandemic would still be impacting our lives 12 months on.

While our sales like everyone else’s fall off a cliff edge, we focused on making sure we create a robust continuity plan that will protect our team and the community. We have never worked as hard to put all the new procedures in place to make sure we survived and thrived as a company.

Wild Thang’s March 2020 lockdown message

 

2 Social distancing T-shirts sent out to our amazing team

While our sales, studio staff and part of our production staff were working from home, we still wanted to make sure we kept in touch with them. So what better way than to send them a t-shirt, which we produced in house, of course.

Wild Thang
Wild Thang kitted out its staff with social distancing t-shirts

 

3 NHS T-shirt Initiative launched

We launched our t-shirt Campaign to let them NHS heroes know they will never walk alone whilst also promoting social distancing.

For every t-shirt purchased we donated 50% to NHS charities or a t-shirt to an NHS hero in their fight against the virus. The reaction to the campaign was fantastic and we feel really proud as a team we made a difference.

During the pandemic Wild Thang launched its t-short campaign to support NHS charities

 

4 Further ISO success For Wild Thang

Even though we have been working remotely because of COVID-19 that was never going to stop Wild Thang from making improvements, even in incredibly challenging circumstances. We were immensely proud as a team to announce the award of ISO 27001, which now creates a trio of ISO standard certifications at Wild Thang.

Wild Thang
There was a new ISO achievement for Wild Thang

 

5 NHS T-shirt Campaign completed and reported

We were incredibly proud of what we achieved as a team at Wild Thang to try to make a difference and received orders from across the UK and Internationally, plus a few celebs purchased and were happy to get involved in our campaign.

We were happy to report that we sold over 370 t-shirt’s and dispatched from WT HQ. The feedback, social interaction and encouragement was immense, but the highlight was from Ellie Orton, CEO of NHS Charities Together,

She said “Well done for all the support you are giving to NHS charities, this is amazing. Thank you so much for sharing with us, we really appreciate it. Thank you so much for your support to NHSCT and our members. I love the videos and selfies. They are great.”

Wild Thang’s NHS t-shirt campaign was declared a huge success

 

6 Liverpool FC finally lifted The Premier League trophy after a 30-year wait

While we have been a branding partner with Liverpool FC for many years and this was an incredibly special moment to say that Wild Thang have branded the first team’s kits and accessories for the Champions of England.

Liverpool FC lifted the Premier League trophy for the first time in 30 years in 2020

 

7 Wild Thang’s world class development took shape

Even with the impact of the pandemic our building contractors flew towards the final external phases which includes full cladding to our west wall, and importantly the window knock through which gave natural light into our production space.

We are getting excited to show prospect clients, suppliers and partners the finished build. The sky’s the limit.

Wild Thang invested £2m in the upgrade of its headquarters

 

8 Wild Thang creates a little bit of history

It was a special moment to visit the Museum of Liverpool and see the exhibition which documents the effect COVID-19 has had on our region with our NHS campaign T-shirts featured, and the positive impact that companies and individuals have had.

Curator Kay Jones and the team did a wonderful job putting it together. It was so nice to see our own NHS awareness t-shirts and other merchandise we have produced form part of this important curation.

Wild Thang
Wild Thang directors, from right, Andrew Dwerryhouse, Chris Dwerryhouse, Sarah Howarth and John Howarth

 

9 Salford Red Devils compete in the Challenge Cup Final

Wild Thang are incredibly proud of the club and honoured to be their official merchandise and branding partner, along with Kappa, supplying the highest quality kit. Salford Red Devils unfortunately lost out by the narrowest of margins at Wembley to Leeds Rhinos.

Wild Thang
Salford Red Devils were defeated by Leeds Rhinos in the 2020 Challenge Cup Final

 

10 We lost a true friend and mentor coach, John Haynes

John became an integral part of our company family helping Wild Thang and all our employees to learn to fly with the eagles over many years. We will never forget the positive impact he had on us all as individuals and as a company.

John had an unwavering commitment over the past four decades to raise aspiration and confidence in each individual that has been mentored by him and The International Coaching Academy. He was rightfully posthumously awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool and will always be in our hearts and minds.

John Haynes
John Haynes, left, with Wild Thang founder Andrew Dwerryhouse

 

11 Wild Thang invests more than £120,000 in new state of the art DTG branding machinery

This will dramatically increase our in house DTG print capacity and prepare us for future growth. As a company and country it’s been a tough year, but we have a dynamic mindset that won’t allow us to standstill, but push forward to be the best we can be and this will add to our world class branding offer.

Wild Thang
John Penkman, a production manager at Wild Thang

 

12 Wild Thang’s long awaited practical completion is agreed for our new World Class development

Similar to many businesses, our sales may have been reduced in 2020. But it has not has not reduced our optimism and determination to make 2021 the start of a new era and our most successful ever.

It’s due to our team’s commitment that our development is now completed which places us in our strongest position ever to deliver one world class solution and as always we are here to help with expert advice to solve any branded clothing, merchandise and print puzzle.

Four years in the making and we can’t wait to give you an official tour, when it’s safe to do so in 2021, and get you all involved in the official showcase launch later in the year.

Wild Thang invested £2m in the upgrade of its headquarters

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