The Tumultuous 2000’s
The Millennium arrived with a bang and, once people realised the world was not going to end and that their PCs could handle the date change, people celebrated the end of the 20th and the promise of the 21st century!
The 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease caused great sadness and hardship across the farming community shutting down the countryside and preventing the transport of livestock and horses within the UK and to shows and events. The agricultural show season was decimated with less than 50% going ahead from late July. Like many other contractors, these were hard times for Woodhouse with our staff on 3 day working weeks and we are continually grateful for the extended loyalty shown to us by our clients throughout these difficult times. It was a long and hard year for everyone in our industry but we made it through and we used the time to re-evaluate our working practices, IT systems and to focus on the future design and shape of the Woodhouse business and its hire products.
2002 saw the introduction of our new recycled plastic temporary stables to the equestrian events industry. Our Quicktrack hdpe experience drove us to test its use in our stables. After many trials, we developed the twin walled hdpe panel design used to manufacture our 21st century Quickstable – a revolutionary 3x3m stable with over-height 2.3m partitions which is risk free without a nail or timber splinter to be found – a true innovation in horse safety. Many other tectonic shifts were in motion for Woodhouse and by 2003-04 the Trade Stand demand had transitioned totally to our modern, high quality Clearspan and away from our trustworthy Green & White Timber Shedding. We retired the last of our Traditional 7 Tier Timber Grandstands in 2005 and also traded in our existing aluminium seating for 60 bays of the most modern 8-tier Matrix Covered Aluminium Structure Grandstands which went into service in 2006 to great acclaim. The UK show and event sector thrived during these years especially with the expansion of hospitality at sporting events and across the live music and festivals sector.
In 2004 we added the Multi-floor mezzanine floor to our product range and for 3 years we installed it in St Georges dock for the Dublin Theatre Festival and elsewhere to support temporary supermarkets during refurbishment. In January 2006 we opened our new Cotgrave depot and offices where we installed a modern joinery, fabrication shop and textile workshop to maintain and manufacture our hire product range. We were accelerating our investment programme concentrating on robust, innovative, high quality, proprietary, temporary structures designed by our own event specialists using feedback from our clients and competitors alike.
Over the years, our Woodhouse event specialists were attentive to our clients’ requirements and their desire for covered temporary stabling where competitors, grooms and horses are sheltered from the rain in our erratic UK weather. In 2007 we focused on the American Stable Barn as the guiding concept to our design to create a premium hire product. The ultimate design, seen at many of the major equestrian events today is a demountable structure with a curved Clearspan roof that is integral to the temporary stables enabling installation on all types of ground. It’s designed to give good natural ventilation, it has a central gangway that is 4m wide giving a large working space and allowing access to supply and safety vehicles and providing a dry and comfortable environment in which grooms and competitors can work and, the ‘pièce de résistance’, the 12sqm, nail and splinter free stables where the horses can relax as if they were at home. In 2008 these Barn Stables were taken straight from the Woodhouse manufacturing floor and installed at RIHS Hickstead (with brown coloured partitions, hence the Hickstead Range name) in scorching 28deg C temperatures. Our hopes and fears were vindicated by the very positive groom, competitor, client and delegate feedback – the Woodhouse team of event specialists had pooled their knowledge and experience to create a worthwhile successor to our original 1933 temporary timber stable and we had got it right!
With the Woodhouse Barn Stables now in use our next challenge was to increase the hire stock to meet growing demand and the requirements of the 2009 Alltech European Championships at Windsor. Not an easy feat due to the ongoing global financial crisis and shortage of bank lending to SMEs but we made it to the magic 224 units. The barn stables were a great success and we believe this event set the standards for the London 2012 Olympics stable design specification.