Case Study - Lethenty Cabinetmakers

"Out of adversity comes opportunity", American author, politician, inventor and statesman Ben Franklin famously said. Cabinetmaker Graeme Winram would certainly agree after rebuilding his business from the ashes of a devastating fire which destroyed the bespoke kitchen and furniture designer’s workshop and much of his stock back in April 2016.

Lethenty Cabinetmakers

"Out of adversity comes opportunity", American author, politician, inventor and statesman Ben Franklin famously said.

Cabinetmaker Graeme Winram would certainly agree after rebuilding his business from the ashes of a devastating fire which destroyed the bespoke kitchen and furniture designer’s workshop and much of his stock back in April 2016.

Lethenty Cabinetmakers - Workshop

With around six months of work on the order book and the goodwill of the local Aberdeenshire community, Graeme set about transforming Lethenty Cabinetmakers and turned to his pension for finance for the second time to put the finishing touches to the job.

We were overwhelmed with the support and help we received from our community. We were offered the use of storage buildings, workshops, vans and tools. One tree surgeon even gave us four large Elm trees, Graeme remembers.
The fire at Lethenty Mill was certainly a major setback for us but, rather than dwell on what we lost, we saw this as a fabulous opportunity to really transform our business for the better.

Prior to the fire the need to pay off debt and purchase a briquette machine as a way of creating additional income and dealing with workshop waste, first switched Graeme onto the possibilities of using his pension to fund the activity.

I have had funding through my bank before but I was interested in utilising my pension pot because it looked like I would be lending to and paying myself back which sounded a better option than going through a bank.
I am also keen at some point in the future to purchase the building I am currently leasing and that would be a good vehicle for doing it because then the building becomes owned by the pension fund.

With Morgan Lloyds help Graeme’s existing pension was transferred into a Small Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS) and used to provide a £50,000 loan to Lethenty Cabinetmakers. With guidance from the pension trustees, Graeme set the interest rate at 12% with a five-year capital repayment term.

Fast forward to autumn 2018 and Graeme and his team of four, who have been with him since the beginning, have rebuilt their workshop just north of Blackburn in an ex-fruit picker’s building at Cairntradlin.

But the conversion took longer than anticipated and Graeme turned to his pension again to fund a £35,000 shortfall and boost the company’s cashflow.

Graeme made a second loan to his business from his pension, again at an interest of 12% with a five-year capital repayment term – to himself.

Lethenty Cabinetmakers - Workshop

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