A few months ago I wrote, with some optimism, about 'the green shoots of recovery' and, whilst our economy remains in the balance, there do seem to be some reasons to be cheerful.
Despite the rather late start, a very busy spring is now over and I'm pleased to say that business has been very much on the increase; in fact we've enjoyed a record two months (April and May) of sales.
With growth at hand, so comes recruitment, and I'm proud to report that, at Pitchcare, we have employed six more staff inside the last couple of months - three in full time capacities and three new apprentices. I doubt this will be our final intake figure for the year either.
I know, talking to others in the industry, that we are not alone, so if companies are now starting to recruit again then there must be confidence in the market upturn.
From our point of view, we have enjoyed an employment policy that includes taking on a mix of skilled technical staff and young apprentices.
Regarding the apprentices, for over three years we have worked closely with a local Government supported employment organisation (Matrix) to bring in keen local talent.
The latest three brings our total to six youngsters, who have been paid to learn and improve their skill base whilst undertaking NVQ education alongside their practical work based training.
Three have already progressed to full time employment with us, each now enjoying the opportunities of furthering their careers and earning an appropriate salary.
The injection of young blood, with their enthusiasm, ideas and outlook, is exactly what our industry needs to move forward.
I've read the various discussions that crop up from time to time on the message boards about apprenticeships but, from these real life experiences, they provide a very useful step into gainful employment. I don't think you'd hear a bad word said about them from the guys and girls that we've brought through the system.
Since I mentioned the message board, there's another reason to be cheerful as we have enjoyed a record number of new posters and messages in March, April and May.
I met a groundsman the other day who said that he'd been a keen follower of the message boards for many years and then waxed lyrical to his workmates about getting on and learning more about the trade. As he said, "it's free guys!"
So, I'm equally positive and optimistic about the future. Our August/September issue of the magazine will be the 50th edition and I will be announcing some more good news then.
In the meantime, let the sun shine every day, and the rain come down ... but only at night.