Future Focus success story: ICE lead in the field of recumbent trike innovation
A visit by Inspired Cycle Engineering (ICE) to the leading British compact and folding bike manufacturer Brompton Bicycles, has been pivotal in creating a clear vision and change in mindset, for the UK’s No.1 most innovative recumbent trike business.
The business has seen strong international growth across 32 countries. With sights set to become the ‘Aston Martin’ of the trike-world, co-directors Neil Selwood and Chris Parker attribute their Growth and Innovation plan to the support received through the Unlocking Potential ERDF-funded Future Focus programme, who facilitated the visit to Brompton Bicycles and have been working with the business for the last 18 months.
“We started ICE as a hobby over 21 years ago; we love trikes – it’s that simple – and we still do. We saw the recumbent bike market begin to grow and the interest in what we were doing at ICE started to pick up speed. We recognised that to take ICE to the next level we were going to need some outside help and that’s where Unlocking Potential came in. We needed a change in mindset and a change in our leadership and management approach, more importantly we needed a clear and agreed plan and strategy.”
Unlocking Potential support ICE to develop and launch growth plan
Unlocking Potential supported ICE to develop and launch their plan, giving them a direction for the future which gave structure to departments, roles and responsibilities within their teams. Through support from Sally Reid and David Bone, part of Unlocking Potential’s Innovation Coaching team, ICE developed their thinking and ways of working in areas the business had never previously had the resource or knowledge to undertake.
Programme Director for Unlocking Potential, Allyson Glover, comments on “An inspiring journey with ICE who are leading in the field of recumbent trike innovation”
“ICE is a great business with a really strong culture of innovation and excellence. We wanted to create a plan from the bottom up that reflected the journey the business has been on but enabled them to break through to the next level of opportunity.”
“We want to use our business as a force for good, by focusing on our people and planet as an intrinsic part of the future for ICE. We are working towards B Corp status, which gives us a great structure for lots of areas that can help to steer us into areas we wouldn’t have considered before. It’s a great way forward for business and for the planet – and that’s how we feel we want to run our business.”
Future Focus introduce Employee Ownership Trusts
The ICE Growth & Innovation Plan was launched in early 2020, but within a few months the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe and the plan fell apart. However, the new structure provided a solid foundation for the next stage of the journey.
As the company started to recover from the pandemic, Unlocking Potential invited Chris and Neil to a series of workshops on succession and exit planning. After hearing about the Employer Ownership model, they knew straight away this was the approach they wanted to follow and before the end of the first session, they had booked in to see facilitator Spencer West LLP to develop a plan. Spencer West set up a schedule for them to follow and Future Focus provided them with additional consultancy to support them through the journey, work out a strategy and ensure they met the relevant deadlines.
As a result, in October 2022, the company was sold to its employees. The new business model includes a separate trust board to oversee the business and a new role of Managing Director to run the business. This change allowed Neil to retire and Chris to focus on his passion – designing, innovating and talking to customers about trikes!
“ICE today is not the same as ICE a year ago, or the ICE 3 years ago or 5 years ago. We have been on a journey and at every stage Unlocking Potential was there for us” Nathan Jarvis, Head of Operations at ICE.
After an extensive recruitment process, the new board appointed Adrian Davies as a Managing Director in January 2023. Adrian brings to ICE extensive experience of global leadership across consulting, financial services and automotive brands such as BMW, Bentley, Bugatti and Jaguar Land Rover, having joined ICE from the RAC group. Looking to the future Adrian is developing a five-year plan for sustainable growth that puts the employees at the heart of the business:
“ICE always had a promising future, but as a family business that had grown organically it was not a ‘professional’ business. We could see it, but we needed to ‘unlock that potential.’ Future Focus did just that” Nathan Jarvis, Head of Operations, ICE