Brian worked with director-owners (the late) Bill Taylor and Mark Miller for several years now, since they were introduced to him as as a Business Link listed advisor.
In the first instance, Brian helped de Havilland though a critical transformation following the notification of withdrawal of previously vital BAE Systems’ funding from the company. Having financed the establishment and running of de Havilland Support Ltd (DHSL) for 10 years, BAE Systems were no longer prepared to financially support the airworthiness programme for the historic aircraft fleet that included the Tiger Moth and Rapide as well as the Bulldog and Beagle Pup.
With Bill and Mark, Brian prepared a business plan that outlined a new method of funding based on owner/operator subscriptions, as well as the sales of new and refurbished spares and parts. This not only provided BAE Systems with the confidence to transfer the operation to DHSL, but also enough for them to subsidise the transition to the new modus operandi.
Brian also introduced local firm RedGraphic to design a new website to coincide with the new business model, while at the same time he set up an e-commerce site using the Magento platform, to enable DHSL to more easily sell their spares and parts.
He latterly to provided Bill and Mark business advice on a variety of planning, finance and wider business growth matters until Bill’s untimely death. This “independently minded” sounding board service as well as ad hoc practical assistance with website and business planning helped DHSL on an upward trajectory, which Mark now maintains.
This is what Mark wrote, by way of a testimonial on their behalf:
“In 2011 we learned that our main funding source of over 10 years would be summarily terminating its contract. Alternative arrangements to finance the company would have to be developed forthwith. Moreover, to qualify for retention of the technical archive which is fundamental to our work, we would have to [submit] a credible business plan to the data’s owners.
“Through a South Cambridgeshire District Council business development initiative we obtained two recommendations for a suitable business advisor to assist us. During Brian’s very first visit he showed such an immediate grasp of our unique and complex situation that we promptly engaged him to help us through this critical period.
“Brian continued to rapidly analyse and understand our business, in fact to a level far above that of our own Industry Regulator. He worked to punitive timescales to help us devise a 3 year plan based on a novel business funding model. As well as providing the foundation for the way in which we are now operating, his input was critical in securing an £80,000 transition fee from our previous source – without which we could not easily have survived this period of such radical change.
“At all times Brian’s commitment to this short-notice task was outstanding. While always pushing to keep our change programme on track, he showed sensitivity and awareness when the Directors had to focus momentarily on other pressing topics.
“Moreover, having put us in touch with an excellent local website developer, Brian (who also brings IT expertise) was central to setting up our e-commerce platform. Both elements are working well and bring with them obvious commercial and reputational advantages.
“Brian continues to help us with various business matters, including pointing out matched-funding opportunities that might otherwise be missed. We continue to rely on him to give a candid and helpful perspective on all manner of commercial and operational issues as they arise.
“We have no hesitation in recommending Brian Milnes as an excellent and value-for-money business adviser.”
Director & Chief Engineer
de Havilland Support Ltd