FEATURES: Ripon Means Business

Becky and Dave Naylor of Bronco. (1303181AM1)
Becky and Dave Naylor of Bronco. (1303181AM1)

Putting the spotlight on our area’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Walking into Bronco’s office after a stroll up the cobbled street of Kirkgate and past the ancient cathedral churchyard feels like discovering a new world.

Plastic white flying horses adorn the blue steel walls. Red and green lights create a quirky ambience in the meeting room. Cubic neon chairs sit beside the kitchen like over-sized blocks of Lego. My path from the kitchen to the meeting room follows a zebra crossing pattern painted on the otherwise indistinct beige flooring.

As I settle my cup of tea down on a Rubik’s Cube coaster, company director Becky Naylor explains why I am sat in what seems to be my dad’s garden shed, complete with grainy wooden walls and exposed beams.

“Dave’s dad always said ‘magic happens in sheds’. So we thought we’d make our meeting room into a real shed,” Becky tells me.

Dave is Becky’s husband of 17 years, head of search marketing and “superstar SEO” of the company, which the couple founded in 2003.

Before I find out more about the couple’s fascinating history, which includes a life-changing health scare, firstly I need to know what the digital agency actually does.

In our increasingly internet-savvy age, we hear phrases such as ‘SEO’ and ‘web traffic’ regularly bandied around.

But what does it all mean?

“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation,” explains the 37-year-old University of Humberside graduate. “So it’s all about trying to get our clients noticed on Google through identifying key words. We also design and develop websites. We have to move really quickly in this industry and clients need to be as enthusiastic about a project as we are.

“There is a risk to this industry but we try to keep up to date with Google and keep within their guidelines.

“It’s quite a complex industry.”

Since relocating from Low St Agnesgate to the Cathedral Units at Ripon’s Phoenix Business Park as part of £125,000 redevelopment, Becky feels the new headquarters reflect Bronco’s creative vision.

“The old building was quite boring,” she says. “We wanted an inspiring space for our staff, to make people proud of coming to work every day. For us, if we have happy staff, we have happy customers. If we have happy customers, we have a successful business.”

And for the Naylors, their team of 16 staff are like part of their extended family, attending couple’s wedding vows renewal and organising frequent social get-togethers.

“The team are our third family,” beams Becky, who is mum to Miles, 12, and Ethan, 10.

Her two boys even hang out with some of the Bronco staff after school, often visiting the company’s ‘Broncoplex’ – named after Google’s famous ‘Googleplex’ headquarters – to play games on the business’s bespoke pool table or on the retro arcade console.

And Becky and Dave’s own personal lives have inspired the company’s familial, homely ethos.

In April 2005 their youngest son Ethan – just three-years-old at the time – was diagnosed with meningitis.

Talking of the “awful time” when Ethan first fell ill, Becky says it “realigned everything”.

“It put everything into perspective and really showed us what’s important,” she says. “Life is not a dress rehearsal.

“It just makes you appreciate what you’ve got. You need to make the most of the here and now. We try and make sure the kids have a great life and have a really happy family life.”

Since Ethan’s recovery – which involved four days of intensive care and a fortnight in hospital – Becky says the couple then focused on growing Bronco and strengthening its stability to become “a place people would want to work at”.

But despite going from strength-to-strength in an unstable and unpredictable digital industry, in addition to overcoming personal adversity, the Naylors aren’t in a rush to make any more ambitious business plans.

“We’re not planning on expanding the team greatly,” says Becky.

“We have space for a couple more staff but have always kept a cap on the size of the company so that we can carry on delivering great customer service and maintaining a well-motivated and happy team, along with still being able to run the company ourselves with no under level of managing. That way we can keep the personal touch.”

And as Ethan gets set to start at Ripon Grammar School with his older brother, there is no other city the Naylors would want to be.

“It’s all about being part of Ripon and staying in Ripon,” smiles Becky. “We could have had a huge company and moved to a bigger city but we want to stay here.”

After spending only an hour in the cosy yet characterful Bronco headquarters, I can see why Becky and her “family team” have no aspirations to expand any further. I already feel at home.