A successful steel sculptor has enjoyed his most successful year, four years after becoming self-employed and buying his first set of Metalcraft tools.
Shaun McPherson had previously been employed as a skilled sheet metalworker. However, with mounting redundancies and tensions in the workplace, which resulted in him being bullied, he quit his job to pursue self-employment.
Having received very positive reviews after making sculptures during quiet times at work, South African-born Shaun enrolled on the Enterprise Programme, which is a four-day course with Prince Charles’ charity, the Princes Trust, which changed his life forever.
Shaun explains: “I had made a spider web pond cover for my father-in-law, which he loved, and I was making kitchenware and figurines out of nuts and bolts in my spare time. A few people saw the pond cover, which I’d made out of scrap, and said ‘wow’ you should market these.’ But I had no idea how to run a business. That’s when I was told about the Prince’s Trust and I’ve never looked back”
After completing the Enterprise Program Shaun had to attended a Dragons Den-style interview to pitch his business plan to a panel of successful entrepreneurs, who in turn approved his plan and secured him a £2,500 loan and two years of mentoring from a business expert.
Shaun used the loan he received from the Trust to purchase a Metalcraft XL5 Power Bender and rent a workshop near where he lives in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. That’s when Elite Pond Covers was established.
Four years on, he has just completed his best year professionally-speaking. “With what I’ve done design-wise and the commissions I’ve completed in 2014 it has been an amazing year.”
“I got a commission for my first large sculpture, a life-size show-jumping horse just over two metres high. I had never done anything that size, scale, or quality before and it was a big step up for me and took several months complete.
Shaun credits Metalcraft tools with making a positive impact when he started out. “I had seen the tools advertised and was impressed by what they were supposed to be able to do. I didn’t really believe it but when I got the XL5 I was blown away. The quality of workmanship is first class and not only are they a British business creating amazing tools right here in the UK, they always go above and beyond what I ask for in terms of customer service’.
“There are only a small amount of companies that I’ve been impressed with since I started my business, Metalcraft is one of them and I can’t thank them enough.”
Shaun now trades as Elite Pond Covers, and Majestic Steel Sculptures. And while he is working harder than he’s ever worked in his life, he is far happier now he is running his own business.
“Getting the approval that my business idea had potential and receiving the loan from the Trust was one of the proudest days of my life. I had a pretty rough childhood and came to the UK to make a change in my life and to start afresh, so that was the first day of a new improved life where I was in control.”
“In my initial business plan I had three main goals: Within ten years of starting out, I said I want to be an established steel sculptor, creating high quality pieces of work. I want to be producing design prototypes which can be mass produced and sold all over the world, and I want to be working with disadvantaged young people who have had a hard time, similar to me, to help them get into creative businesses and entrepreneurship.
“Four years in, I’m doing pretty well. I’ve put a big stamp on the sculpture world by producing a few high quality pieces of work. And I have had amazing opportunities to work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, while helping raise over £500 000 for the Prince’s Trust, which will go to helping young people get into business.”
In March 2014 Shaun was named the national winner of the Prince’s Trust and Samsung Young Ambassador of the Year award, and was presented with his award by HRH Prince Charles, with Jeremy Irons and Joan Collins also attending the ceremony.
Metalcraft’s Director Barry Wood said: “It’s fantastic to hear Shaun is doing so well. We follow his designs and progress on Twitter and love to hear how successful he has become.
“We wish Shaun all the best with his career and a fantastic 2015.”