A window into the world of a successful business
Couple explain how they have built a reputation around high-end products
After the birth of his first daughter, Ben Canning realised that he wanted to spend more time with her and less time commuting. It was the push he needed to start his own business.
Now that company, Hillview Windows, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and employs more than a dozen people locally.
It is very much a family business, with wife Vanessa playing a key role too.
Ben was brought up in Burghclere.
He went to the village primary school and then on to The Clere School, where he sat his GCSEs.
After leaving school he became an apprentice woodturner at a company in Newbury.
He then started working for a window supplier, gaining the first taste of an industry that would shape his future.
After 10 years there, he moved to another window company, based in Ascot, and it was here that the first seeds of what he might do in the future were sown.
“It was while I was doing that job that I started to think of setting up on my own,” he explains.
And so, in 2008, shortly after his daughter was born, Ben left the Ascot company and started working on his own, supplying windows locally.
“It was just a case of earning a good living by myself at first,” he recalls.
“We started with me doing the selling, measuring and installing, working out of my own van.
“We got busier and busier and Vanessa started to get more involved too.
“Then after a year, we took someone else on.
“It got to a point where I had to decide whether to start turning work away because I couldn’t keep up with the demand by myself or get someone in to work with me.
“I have always thought if there is work there then expand to accommodate it and that’s what we have continued to do.”
Due to that increasing demand, Ben continued to grow and, a decade ago last month, on March 23, 2010, Hillview Windows was incorporated.
Having started out working from the garage at his family home, Ben soon needed to look for more permanent premises for his growing business.
He headed back to where he had grown up – Burghclere.
After nine years based in the Hampshire village, Hillview Windows’ expansion meant that it needed to start looking for a new home again.
Now, they are happily settled at Highclere Business Centre, in Mount Road.
When he started, Ben was doing all the sales and installation himself, but as he has grown his staff, his role has evolved too.
And Vanessa has seen her role change considerably over the last decade as well.
Born and brought up in Germany, she met Ben 19 years ago and moved to the UK.
She worked for Twining’s in Andover, in finance and data management, before leaving work to have her two daughters.
Now they are older and at school, she is able to spend more time at work with Ben.
The company now employs six fitters, who work in three vans, four office staff and three builders.
And it has a company liaison officer – Willow the dog.
“We set up HV Builders in August 2019 to meet a growing demand for the services,” Ben says.
“They are an integral part of the business but they operate as a different company.
“We use them to make window openings bigger, or put down a conservatory base for example.
“We are looking to continue expanding a little more, but we are very happy with how things are now.”
The company, which has sponsored the Burghclere Youth Football Team for several years, is known locally for providing high-end products, its high levels of customer care and its extensive range of energy efficient windows.
“We supply a wide range of windows, but have built our reputation around providing high-end products,” Vanessa adds.
“There are always new and pretty things that come on the market and we keep up-to-date with them.”
The company is able to provide double glazed windows, doors, conservatories, warm roof systems, roof lanterns, fascia, soffits, guttering, cladding and garage doors.
When they are not at work the couple enjoy spending time with their family and going on long dog walks.