Sustainable street furniture business grows from grandson’s litter lesson

Lock It Safe founder is now back in business after environmental epiphany over elastic band

A Grimsby businessman has ditched retirement after being given a lesson in sustainability by his grandson.

Dave Spencer founded one of the largest cycle parking companies in the UK in the early Nineties, selling up in 2017. Now he is bringing a career’s worth of experience at the helm of Lock It Safe together with an ambition to fulfil environmental desires. In doing so he is looking to breathe a greener life into supermarket car parks, street furniture and other public realm structures.

Mr Spencer, who runs his new entity Doing R Bit out of The Enterprise Village – where early creations have been adopted by E-Factor, said: “I was 62, I thought I’d retired, but I was visiting my daughter in the Cotswolds, taking things out of the back of the car and dropped an elastic band on the ground and my grandson said ‘don’t leave that there’. I asked why the interest, what was so important, and first he said animals could choke on it, and added it would also take years to biodegrade.

“He explained what he had learned at school, about pollution and the scale of plastic waste. As a grandparent I didn’t realise, we’re perhaps one generation away from that. For someone so young to know so much, it inspired me, and I felt compelled to do something.”

He has now brought forward a range of timber products, some incorporating planters and living roofs, with solutions for cycle storage, outdoor eating, bus stops and more.

One key area is parklets, roadside spaces repurposed as public amenities that can help calm or eliminate unwanted traffic.

“It has opened up a new world for me,” Mr Spencer said, having linked up with a sales colleague in the North West. He recalls his previous venture’s early torment of tracking down cycling officers to engage with, now the green theme abounds in the public sphere, with early phase work with Sheffield City Council progressing on a range.

“Living cities, cleaner air schemes, social and working schemes, everything just feels like the timing is right, it is absolutely current,” he said.

“We’re subcontracting manufacturing locally at the moment, but the ultimate for me – and only time will hold me back – would be a timber-framed workshop, with solar panels, water harvesting system and EV charge points – a wholly green environmentally friendly business – not just manufacturing but in delivery too. Rather than sending teams out, I’ll supply the designs and materials to local contractors.

“It is about behavioural change, what this is doing is so important, yet it will be the norm for my grandson’s generation.

“People will replicate it, but if they do that’s fantastic, it is my job done. If I can help start it, and other businesses supply too, the benefit is for the environment. If we end up with a whole tonne of competition, so be it.”

It isn’t the first time family have provided inspiration either, Lock It Safe came about after his child’s bike was stolen from outside Grimsby Leisure Centre.

Long-standing employees Matt Smith and Craig Sime bought him out, diversifying the business on the back of a strong reputation.

Doing R Bit was adopted after seeing major organisations voicing what they were doing. He now wants to see that stretch further from the example of supermarkets with plastics bags and packaging to wider estate management.

Accessed: 7th April 2022 Source: