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20 Years of Loyal Service

A huge congratulations to Simon Keeping, our Operations Manager, for 20 years of loyal service. Joining us in 1998 as an Installation Manager he has been a key member of the Conquest team and journey. We chat with Simon to find out more about his time at Conquest and any plans for the future. 

 

1)      What did you do before working at Conquest?

Immediately before Conquest, I worked as a Regional Manager for an image maintenance business in the petroleum industry. This involved reactive and planned maintenance for over 1,000 filling stations across the south of England. Prior to this, I had a variety of jobs including owning a successful surface-preparation business, managing a timber import yard and helping to organise Southampton’s 60th anniversary of the Spitfire celebrations. In between jobs I spent a year travelling across the USA and Mexico on a motorbike living mostly in a tent!

2)      What made you decide to apply for a job at Conquest 20 years ago and what was the role?

Originally coming from a self-employed background and having worked for a large PLC I was keen to take on a management role where I could have a tangible and visible influence. Conquest was an attractive prospect for many reasons; the size of business, its heritage, that its family run, a pride in the product, time-served craftsmen etc. Probably the most important factor from a management point of view was that I would be looking after a fully employed team; Conquest’s policy of keeping everything in-house alleviated many of the headaches associated with managing subcontractors, and for me, this was a big plus.  

3)      How has your job changed over the years?

Probably the most significant change over the years has been the integration of technology. Looking back it seems unbelievable now but I had been doing my job for more than two years before my first office computer was installed. Bespoke software systems have revolutionised the way we work and technology, in general, has allowed me to manage multiple tasks and be far more efficient than ever before. Having the ability to exchange information between designers, surveyors, factory and site are invaluable. Many other things have not changed and I think Conquest is unique in its ability to retain staff. I cannot think of any other business where twenty years of service is not considered exceptional.   

4)      Tell us a little more about your current job with Conquest

Initially, I was employed as an Installation Manager scheduling the installers and technical surveyors and this is part of the role I still perform, however, as is often the case in SME’s managers have to wear many different hats. As Operations Manager I now have a far broader remit including customer service; health and safety; insurance; human resources; budgeting; legal compliance; fleet management; facilities management. As a keen photographer, I am also involved in documenting our installations and compiling and maintaining Conquest’s online image portfolio. For several years I have also produced all the images used in Conquest’s brochure, advertisements and on their website.

5)      What’s the best thing about your job?

Having given this question some thought it is difficult to pinpoint a single ‘best thing’ about my job. Every project Conquest undertakes is bespoke and unique and this, combined with the many other facets of running a busy manufacturing operation, mean that my days all always interesting – so variety could certainly be up there with my ‘best things’. The people I work with are an outstanding and dedicated team who all share a common ethos in customer care and exceeding expectations and are a pleasure to work with. Our product is class leading and this is reflected in the overwhelmingly positive feedback I receive from our clients. These factors combined have kept me making the forty mile round commute to and from my Eastleigh home for the last twenty years.

6)      What has it been like to be part of Conquests ongoing journey?

I have always been proud to work for Conquest. Companies of this calibre are few and far between and despite several hurdles and challenges along the way it has been good to be part of a forward thinking and progressive business that values its staff and produces beautiful hand-made furniture that delights its clients, many of whom have become good friends.

7)      Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

Although it may not sound very ambitious I would be happy to see myself working in my current or a similar role for Conquest in ten years.

 

Supporting Community Arts Project

 
We are proudly supporting the innovative community arts project The Inventors, led by Portsmouth’s leading contemporary art gallery Aspex and creative making space The Makers Guild. 
 
We are thrilled to be part of such a fantastic project that encourages people to explore new ways of making and creating, through a number of fun workshops and exhibitions. As part of the project, we are supporting three talented artists, Ming Wu, Jon Lockhart and Fern Toynton, who have been commissioned to create unique artwork inspired by the project’s themes.
 
 
Earlier in the month, we were delighted to welcome Ming and Jon to Conquest, giving them the grand tour of our showroom, learning how all of our materials are made and sourced, followed by a detailed workshop tour – seeing the journey and craftsmanship of our bespoke furniture and kitchens. 
 
 
It was very interesting to hear about both the artists’ projects. Ming is designing and creating a 10ft boat using a 3D printer. Jon is creating the ‘Equalodium’, a sculpture which will act as a level platform for inventing and inventions. This sculptural piece of furniture will be used as part of an installation at Victorious Festival and then be offered to a local school/organisation for art materials storage.
 
It was a very enjoyable morning, learning all about the artists and the projects they are working on for The Inventors. We are very much looking forward to watching the community project evolve throughout the summer and are proud to be involved with something so fantastic. 
 
 
“Inventors project to me means a way to be free to make something amazing regardless of what it is or worth.” – Ming Wu
 
“The Inventors Project is about levelling out opportunity whilst striving for excellent art experiences for all” – Jon Lockhart. 
 

Open Plan Living for Entertaining and Hosting

 
Have you been enjoying the summer so far? We’ve had Wimbledon, the World Cup and some truly glorious weather. Our unusually warm summer has been the perfect setting to host family and friends, but is your space meeting your entertaining and hosting needs or is it limiting them?
 
 
During the summer months we get to enjoy longer days, giving us more time to spend with our loved ones and friends. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a beautifully spacious kitchen, giving you the room to cook for your guests and entertain at the same time? Or perhaps enjoy or glass of wine whilst overlooking the garden?
 
 
Many of us would like to create a larger open plan kitchen and living space that is welcoming for our guests and enables our social life to flourish. A bespoke kitchen and living space ensures that all elements fit together beautifully and without compromise. Creating such a space is a significant task but a rewarding one and so it is crucial that it is done correctly and with Conquest, that is guaranteed. We will create a space that brings everybody together and a bespoke made to measure kitchen will not only create the desired space for hosting but will also the kitchen perfectly fits your needs.

Kitchen Trends 2018

 

 

White
White kitchens have been popular in both traditional and contemporary designs for many years, and we don’t see any signs of this slowing down. They are neutral, clean and work well with a splash of colour from appliances or feature walls. 

Bespoke wooden cabinets 
Painted cupboard doors mean you can have you can have your Conquest kitchen in almost any colour you wish. In addition to white continuing to be a popular choice of colour, being clean and natural, forest green is on trend for 2018. The colour works well with traditional style kitchens, bringing the outdoor living indoors.

Timber Worktops
Over the years we have seen less wooden worktops requested at design and installed. Many customers now opt for natural materials such as granite, marble or stone. With timber worktops requiring regular oiling and being susceptible to water stain, people are drawn to an easy to maintain surface. 

Reducing clutter
Over the years kitchens can accumulate miscellaneous clutter – often being a primary motivator to built-in cabinets, organisers, pan drawers and pull out waste bins. Reducing clutter with suitable storage can make a significant difference to how you use and enjoy your kitchen.

Open plan
The kitchen is the heart of the home with an open planned kitchen/dining room desired by many homeowners. Entertaining friends and family in an open plan kitchen brings everybody together. You no longer have to leave your guests in another room whilst you continue to prepare food in the kitchen and balance entertaining in the dining.

Future proofing
Adapting to the future is something many of our customers consider before the design process. Renovating a kitchen with technology in mind is often at the forefront of kitchen designs, such as concealed cabling, smart technology and automation.

Induction Hobs
In the past, an induction hob hasn’t had the best reputation for cooking, with opinions of not being able to control the heat as well as gas. The report shows that 41% of homeowners surveyed selected an induction hob, 29% gas and the remaining upgrading to a gas/electric combination hob.

Personalisation
The 2018 Houzz kitchen trends study reveals some interesting insights, from what makes homeowners decide to change their kitchen through to their preferred appliance upgrades. The research shows that 40% of all people asked about their motivation for a kitchen renovation,  say that is tied to their having recently purchased their home and are looking to personalise it, while 33% had lived in their home for a number of years and now have the means to renovate. 

Winners of Best of Houzz 2018

We are delighted to have been awarded Best of Houzz 2018 in the service category for the second consecutive year. Nominated by our customers, this prestigious award goes out to the top 3% of professionals, focusing on the quality of our work and customer service. We are thrilled to receive it again.

We take pride in all of all of our designs and installations, working with our customers every step of the way to ensure they get the home of their dreams. Here are just a few of those Houzz customer reviews for Co quest that helped us to scoop the award.

“We have now used Conquest three times and just as in the other two instances, we have been delighted with the results. We are impressed by the styles of the furniture range including the colours and finishes available. The design is then carefully gone through with us. The installation is also top quality finished with a thorough cleanup.” – Lawrence Murawski 

“A highly professional and friendly installation from start to finish. The result even exceeded our expectations. A huge thank you to the team at Conquest.” – Chris Riley

“From the initial consultation onwards, the Conquest team worked with us to refine the design to meet our exact needs and build on our ideas, both during visits to our house and their showroom (including evenings/ weekends). Once the design was confirmed, the installation team attended on the agreed dates; they were professional and kept the house very tidy throughout the work. The finished product is exceptionally well made, looks smart and meets our requirements perfectly. We would strongly recommend Conquest.” – Francis Griffiths