If SpaceCraft has been off the radar recently, it’s not surprising. We’ve been on one hell of a ride.
Suffice to say, after a countdown that took almost three years, we finally took off from King Street and parachuted safely into our new Strathalbyn workshop at 54 Milnes Road, albeit with a few landing glitches still to overcome.
At least, like most of life’s trials, it’s given us renewed faith in our loyal clients and our team’s resilience, as well as a bloody good story to tell.
Originally, we thought we’d be at King Street forever. It seemed so huge.
As was the mortgage for a vulnerable young business, although we’d been very lucky to buy it from Ellen’s dad in 2011.
But a growth spurt gave us a double-edged joy and headache: like Chief Martin Brody in Jaws, we were gonna need a bigger boat.
Thankfully, our neighbours right across the road, Ron and Jean, came to our immediate rescue and rented us their sizeable shed.
That put a bandaid on the problem but the work kept coming through the door and we knew we had to find a long-term solution.
Victims of our own success? It’s definitely what they call a first-world problem.
Early in 2019, we therefore started seriously looking for a new lease and, failing to find anything in Strath, we admit we did tip-toe over to Mount Barker.
In fact, we almost put pen to paper on a lease there.
But, in retrospect, it was never really going to work: apart from still only having the same floor size as our workshops in Strath, we would have had to apply to Council for a change of use for the zone and it suddenly became a major issue. Everything happens for a reason…
Soon after, our work started to dry up.
And if you’ve run your own business, you know how scary that can be.
But instead of hiding under our desks, we summoned up all our false bravado and decided to make use of this quiet time by regrouping and figuring ourselves out once and for all.
We even did some market research to refine our positioning and develop a comprehensive strategy for the future. But what we learned rang true.
It surprised us at the time – although, perhaps, it shouldn’t have – when the feedback revealed our clients couldn’t picture us in Mount Barker.
Not only do you love Strath, but you love us being in Strath. And, you know what? So do we.
It was July 2019, as luck would have it, when we got calls – almost simultaneously – from two angels of mercy, both named Sally (Ness and Roberts). Thank you. You were our Sally-vation.
Both were aware we needed to expand; both wanted to make sure we stayed in Strath.
And both had seen a block that was coming up for sale in Strath’s industrial/commercial zone, right up on the hill above the Harness Racing Club and next-door to the fuel depot.
Isn’t it funny how things work?
We’d driven past that block so many times and didn’t know it was a possibility.
Here was the solution: stay where we love and build the perfect workshop to our own design.
In December 2019, the block was ours but there was no time to celebrate.
Immediately, we started work on getting the plans drawn up, consulting with engineers and preparing documents for council. Then, a little thing called COVID-19 arrived.
It was an all-or-nothing moment and pretty nerve-racking but we decided to push ahead and make use of any downtime or slowing of workflow. (Hah! The slowdown didn’t last long.)
It almost took a year but we got our development approval (DA) in October 2020 and the building commenced soon after with Dellatorre Construction.
Let’s just say this whole process has been a big learning curve and it’s given us a great insight into what our clients go through with their builds. Except ours was on a different scale of scary.
Of course, with the benefit of perfect 20/20 hindsight, we now have a much clearer idea of what’s involved but when we started we were like bunnies caught in the headlights.
No, it wasn’t all smooth sailing: despite having the DA, we had to reconfigure the fire-fighting equipment to meet CFS requirements and we had a couple of curve-balls thrown our way connecting the NBN, water and power. But we got there. Well, almost…
We breathed a sigh of relief when we secured a tenant for King Street.
But we were soon holding our (masked) breath.
As they were moving in on Sunday 1 August, we’d planned an orderly move to the new premises over the week prior. But on 20 July, South Australia went into a seven-day lockdown.
Not only did that put all our installations and design consultations on hold; we then had to condense an orderly one-week move into two-and-a-half frantically sleepless days.
Our magnificent team rose to the occasion, donning trackies and steel-capped boots and getting stuck in. You’ve never seen such bedlam. But we’re in.
Sure, we still have some unpacking to do. We don’t yet have a showroom or boardroom.
And we’re way too busy now to build our own joinery. (Ironic?)
But, man, how good is it to be in our new home?
It has a great energy to it and a real vibe with the office, lunchroom and bathrooms working beautifully and loads more space in the workshop. (And what’s a SpaceCraft without space?)
So, you’ll have to excuse our empty showroom but our priority now rests with the design, manufacturing and installations for the clients who’ve stuck with us through this whole crazy saga.
It’s just as well we have a bigger workshop, because we’re now fully booked to the end of 2021 and have only a few spots left for projects pre-July 2022.
And with this massive workload, we’re looking for another cabinet-maker/installer and yet another apprentice for a 2022 start.
So, even if your name’s not Sally, please feel free to give us a call if you know someone.