Tim Wadsworth- People and Places
Written by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photos by Nick Hook
Tim Wadsworth is a fascinating human. As the founder and MD of his own company, his story is interesting (which we’ll get to shortly) but sometimes, when you spend time with someone, how they make you feel lives longer in the memory than what they’ve said or done. I had exactly this experience recently when I met with Tim to talk about his journey in business, his company Space and the launch of the inaugural Space Awards. With expert social skills, Tim made me feel listened to, valued and relaxed all at the same time, with expertly held eye contact, body language, active listening and the perfect sprinkling of humour thrown in for good measure. He also happens to have one of the calmest voices I can remember coming across so far in my career. If I ever turn my life into an autobiographical audio book, I know who I’m going to for the voiceover…
Anyway, back to Tim. Exeter born and bred, he lived in Clyst Hydon for the first nineteen years of his life before moving to the Midlands to work and then, eventually, London. After establishing a career as a chartered surveyor there, where he gained valuable experience in commercial property, residential property, property development, investment work and valuation work, he moved with his wife to Hampshire where they settled down and started a family. This is also where Tim set up Space (in its first incarnation), with an office in Winchester and a second in Mayfair, London, employing twenty-five people in total.
This company, much like his current business, dealt in the design, fitting-out, moving and facilities management of other people’s office spaces. With an annual turnover of £3.5m per year, they were clearly doing something right. However, it was the late ‘90s and there was nowhere near the same level or culture of business coaching and support that exists nowadays. As a result, Tim wore too many hats and was MD, FD, HR Director and Marketing Director all at once. To put it bluntly, he got sick of his job and, with his eldest child approaching senior school age, made the brave decision to sell his shares and move to Dorset; Lyme Regis to be exact.
Here, he tried his hand at property development and got a little more than he had bargained for. Between 2002 and 2007, he bought and renovated old mill buildings into flats; 334 to be precise. However, when recession hit in 2007, the banks pulled all of their lending overnight, effectively killing the projects immediately. It was then that Tim re-evaluated and decided to go back to what he knew best; Exeter and Space.
By this point, the previous incarnation of Space had ceased to exist so, after seeking legal advice, Tim resuscitated the brand in 2010 and things went well for several years before, in 2014, a friend of his in Auckland, New Zealand, contacted him with a job offer to come and manage a portfolio of fifty offices, all owned by the same company. He accepted, moved his family out to New Zealand and stayed there for two years; selling some of the offices, handing some back to landlords, re-letting or re-fitting others and outsourcing their property management requirements. At end of two years, he gave them a handbook on how to manage their property portfolio and moved back to England in April 2016.
Sometimes, distance from a set of circumstances or issues gives you a greater clarity which helps you to find a better path. The other side of the world was, evidently, distance enough for Tim to realise that, instead of a more formal consultancy style of business, he wanted to go down the route of becoming more of an office interiors agency, working collaboratively with clients to design, fit-out and deliver office solutions for their businesses, including office moves.
Fast forward a couple of year to today and Space is now a far more modest company than in its first form, with four employees and a £850’000 annual turnover, but one gets the impression that Tim and his team are far happier and more fulfilled than ever before. The professional and personal satisfaction garnered from having a loyal and contented client base, including impressive names such as Crowdcube, Savills and Old Mill Accountants, beamed forth from Tim’s face as he talked about the particulars of the projects he has undertaken.
With such a buoyant economy, Exeter is perfectly suited for a company like Space. With many companies starting up, scaling up, expanding and relocating in the city, the need for well-designed, well-thought-through and well-executed workspaces has never been greater. And, especially in an age where mental health and wellbeing of employees is becoming more valued, employers are increasingly seeking office spaces which provide the best possible environment for healthy, productive and collaborative working.
It was also very clear that Tim is hugely proud of his team. He gushed about former Tank Commander Chris, who he recently recruited out of the forces as Space’s new Build Manager. And, in my opinion, the most memorably named professional in Exeter, ‘Grace from Space’, their Operations Manager extraordinaire. I actually had the pleasure of meeting both Grace and Chris at the recent launch of the Space Awards and every single thing Tim had told me about them was backed up in person. They are truly wonderful people.
That leads me nicely onto the Space Awards, which Grow are proud to be Media Partner and Sponsor for. Put simply, the Space Awards have been designed to celebrate the best and most innovative workspaces in Exeter. This is in recognition of the fact that good workspaces make for happy people. Happy people make for more successful companies. More successful companies attract and retain professional talent. And when that happens, everyone in Exeter wins. With their inaugural awards ceremony on November 22nd, there are many excited companies and individuals around the city who have been shortlisted for a variety of awards ranging from Best Sustainable Workspace to Coolest Office.
With a positive outlook, happy customers and Tim at the helm, Space have a bright future indeed. To infinity and beyond!
Follow Space’s trajectory @betterworkspace on Twitter