Topping the bill-board

A LOCAL company which started in an Audenshaw garden shed hit the big time after winning a national billboard advertisement on a radio show.

When Ben Atkinson entered a competition that saw small firms up and down the country rewarded for their efforts, little did he know he would be a winner.

In fact, the first he knew was when he answered his phone and on the other end of the line was Radio X breakfast show host Chris Moyles.

Soon afterwards, millions of people saw the name of Crafty Creations MCR.

“It was a big shock,” said Ben, who lives on The Hawthorns.

“We heard about a competition they were running on Radio X, in conjunction with Sage, who do the accountancy software.

The prize winning billboard on Hyde Road

“And we just thought, ‘Why not enter it?’ So we did, then we got the phone call.

“We were told a week earlier that we’d been shortlisted and that we’d know by the end of that week. We hadn’t heard anything back.

“Then the phone rang and it was Chris Moyles on the other end. I pretty much knew who it was straight away as we listen to his show all the time.

“I’d listened to the other winners of the competition, I just wasn’t expecting it to be us. It was a shock but a very welcome one.”

Ben seemed calm as he spoke on the airwaves about his furniture manufacturing firm, which is the result of being made redundant from a job at Bentley motor company – a decision he says he half-expected.

In truth, one phrase was running through his mind – do not swear.

The 33-year-old added: “A bit of panic set in bit from what I’m led to believe the billboard popped up all over the country, in prominent locations.

“I’ve had people ring me up saying, ‘I listened to you on Radio X, I was wondering what you can do.’”

As well as the billboard, Ben’s company – which makes tables and other items of furniture for the home and garden, as well as frames for displays at weddings, all of which are named after areas of Greater Manchester – is moving on to bigger things.

After starting in his shed, he moved to premises on Robinson Street in Stalybridge and is now heading to a much larger unit on Whitelands Road, Ashton.

His team is also growing as wife Jane is now going full-time with them.

“I was made redundant on March 20 last year,” added Ben. “That was the Friday, so I left work then on the Monday, the first lockdown was announced.

“That’s when I started in the shed. I basically started as a hobby, making a few things for my mates. Then we started selling it through Facebook and Etsy and it just took off.

“In the middle of this Jane and I also had a baby, young Bertie!”

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