October 25, 2021

An Interview with Charlotte Knowles MSW

Our Organisation

Elektec is a family run business providing electrical services for commercial and industrial organisations throughout the North West.  Elektec was established in October 2017 and is based in Darwen, Lancashire.

Our company won the BIBAs Construction Business of the Year Award 2021, run by the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and Elektec’s Managing Director, Carl Knowles, has recently been named a national success story for The Prince’s Trust.  We have been recognized with a Mayoral Award by the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen for “outstanding contribution to the community” and been named one of “Lancashire Family Business Heroes” by Lancashire Business View.

Our aims are to provide excellent customer service, high quality electrical services and to make a positive difference within society by driving a successful, creative corporate social responsibility campaign.

Elektec regularly provide free electrical services to organisations in need and commission hand painted artwork within the local community.  During the pandemic, Elektec offered free PAT testing to Charities, Places of Worship and Community Interest Companies.

We are Business Club Members of Blackburn Youth Zone. We have supplied and installed LED lighting for free as well as commissioned a hand painted mural in their new library for young people to enjoy.  Elektec are long term supporters of East Lancashire Hospice. The company recently sponsored their Sunflower Appeal which raised £9005. We sponsor AFC Darwen’s under 12’s football team in the name of both Elektec and the hospice.  Elektec are Corporate Partners of Secret Santa CIC and have provided them with LED lighting, electric heating, donations and a hand painted mural. We also support Rummage Rescuers CIC and Blackburn Foodbank too.

As aforementioned, my husband and Elektec’s Managing Director, Carl Knowles, was recently named a national success story for the Prince’s Trust. Back in 2009, Carl was working as an electrician when he was made redundant. He found the prospect daunting but was determined to find something new which allowed him to work regular hours. With a £1,500 grant from The Prince's Trust he was able to set up his own business. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, myself and Carl doubled Elektec's staff numbers, doubled turnover, expanded our offices and recruited four apprentices.

As a result of this recognition, the management team are now working locally with The Prince’s Trust to support the 12-week Team programme on an ongoing basis.  During week one, we meet the participants and talk to them about our journey.  During week nine, we help the young people with their CVs and conduct mock interviews with them. During week 12, we attend the final ceremony where the young people are given their certificates and praised for their achievements.

About Me

I am the Finance & Business Communications Manager at Elektec. I gained a 2:1 BA Hons Degree in Criminology at Helsinki University, Finland.  After gaining my degree, I completed a Masters in Social Work at Lancaster University, proceeding to work as a Child Protection Social Worker for 11 years.  In 2019, Managing Director, Carl Knowles, suggested that I leave my social work career and assist him with running Elektec due to its rapid growth.  I was 5 months pregnant at the time with our third child.  After much deliberation, I decided to take a huge risk and change career.  Now I co-own Elektec and work fulltime in the construction industry.

My life has changed significantly since moving careers from child protection services to working as a business owner in the construction industry.  Learning how to manage a team of people, ensure their wellbeing and focusing on their personal development. Adopting a leadership style that empowers and motivates staff.  Implementing staff structures. Ensuring the correct policies and procedures are in place such as, Human Resources and Health and Safety, so the company is compliant. Managing finance. Making sure the highest levels of customer satisfaction are maintained and so on.

Giving back to the community and making a difference locally provides me with so much joy and pride. We place a huge importance on social value. With regards to recruitment, we recruit locally, take on apprentices of all ages and abilities, as well as offer work experience opportunities for those wanting to enter the electrical trade. Personally, I would like to see more females choosing to enter the trade. I am actively working with a local careers organisation and delivering virtual careers advice to local schools, encouraging females to consider a career within construction.

My hope is that my children will be proud of myself and my husband when they are old enough to understand our achievements and experiences at Elektec.

Charlotte Knowles MSW
Elektec Electrical Contractors

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