Phil and Simon get the Keys To Success after winning Hartlepool Mail competition

THIS is the moment when Phill Smart and Simon Woodhouse realised it wasn’t a dream. They really had won the Keys To Success competition.

The joint owners of the IT support firm PC Trends opened the doors to their new office at Hub Two of the Innovation Centre on the Queens Meadow Business Park in Hartlepool.

Phill Smart (left) and Simon Woodhouse

Phill Smart (left) and Simon Woodhouse

It marked the point when the winners of the contest, run by the Hartlepool Mail in association with UK Steel Enterprise, got to collect their fantastic prize of an office which is free for the next year.

Phill, 34, from Hartlepool, and Simon, 35, from Thornley, were delighted to settle in to their new home which comes complete with desks, chairs, lighting and accessories.

It’s in the most modern of business surroundings and comes with one of the fastest Internet connections in the region, a water system that re-uses collected rainwater and a charger for electric vehicles in the car park.

It also has air conditioning; a manned reception and waiting area, free parking, 24 hour access, high security, a kitchen, gym and chill-out room and attractive landscaped grounds.

And for Phill, the reality of being Hub Two’s newest tenant is still setting in. He said: “I laughed when I first got the news, We were on a contract installing a server at a school at the time when the call came in and I couldn’t quite take in what I was being told.

“It is the sort of thing that doesn’t normally happen to us. It is quite remarkable.”

PC Trends was one of more than a dozen firms in the running for the title from all over the North-East.

They were whittled down to a shortlist of Oculus (a human resources advice, consultancy and hands-on support firm run by Louise Kennedy, 36), North East Safety Boats (run by John and Gareth Southcott, aged 59 and 30 respectively. It provides rigid inflatable and inflatable boats for work in industries) and PC Trends.

Sarah Thorpe, the UK Steel Enterprise regional executive for the North, said: “This is the culmination of what has been a great process and a great competition with the Hartlepool Mail.

“The shortlist was extremely strong and for Phill and Simon to be the preferred choice, it shows how well they stood out.

“It also shows the potential for their company and I am looking forward to seeing where they go in the next year.”

PC Trends is already thinking of taking on an extra worker.

Phill explained: “We could not expand before. The stumbling block was an office but now that we have got that, we can start looking at taking on a third person.

“We want to find someone who can take some of the workload from us.”

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