ERA proudly celebrates twenty-five years in business.

2024 sees us proudly celebrating twenty-five years in business.  Since our inception, we’ve embarked on a transformative journey, shaping the market, technological landscape, and many careers.

As we reflect on the incredible achievements and milestones of the past twenty-five years, we’re filled with gratitude for the unwavering support of customers, partners, suppliers, our investors, and our dedicated team who have made this journey possible.

Our founding member Gareth Hodkinson first started the business in Southport, Merseyside after being frustrated by the inefficiencies of his current business; but Gareth saw not just setbacks, he saw a chance for change.

With a vision fuelled by determination and a commitment to excellence, Gareth embarked on a journey where reliability, integrity and dedication became the cornerstone of his new ethos and ERA was founded.

An experienced engineer was quickly recruited with a deep understanding of the products and service offerings as well as the media and entertainment industry.  Simultaneously, Gareth engaged with a Financial Director, Mark Weston, prioritising a strong financial foundation from the outset.

In the summer of 1998, the newly formed team set about transforming a barn in Preston, Lancashire into their office converting the rustic space into a functional workplace.

Scaling and expanding operations

In 1999 ERA was incorporated in Preston, Lancashire and we started operating as a reseller of RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) storage systems.

It was during this period that Sean Baker, the current Managing Director of ERA was also recruited.  Having known Gareth for a number of years, Sean felt assured of his capabilities and had confidence in the venture’s potential deciding to take the leap to join the startup.

Securing credit for the business was critical for scaling and expanding operations.  Initially cash flow posed a challenge, and the first credit account was established in March 1999 with a modest £500 credit limit.

However, through diligent financial management and timely payments, the company quickly demonstrated its financial credibility and credit limits gradually increased over the next few years, reaching an impressive milestone of a million-pound credit limit.

This significant expansion in credit capacity provided the company with the financial flexibility needed to pursue ambitious growth strategies, invest in critical areas of the business, and seize emerging opportunities.

Securing our first customer in January of 1999 marked a significant milestone for the business, validating the business concept and demonstrating the demand for our products and services.  This pivotal moment not only provided much needed revenue but instilled confidence into the team.  ERA turned over an impressive £1.2 Million in the first year of business.

Rapid growth saw a move to London

ERA’s rapid growth was impressive and with each happy customer, our reputation quickly established itself, becoming synonymous with reliability and excellence.

Initially, we focussed on building our own kit but overtime we saw a shift in the market.   Our offerings started to evolve to encompass more comprehensive support services with our clients demanding a higher level of involvement.

As our customer base grew, the team found they were spending more and more time in London with ERA fast becoming the trusted supplier of choice for the media and entertainment industry.  In 2003, the team made a strategic decision to open an office in London to better serve our valued customers.  A new office was established in Camden alongside the existing Preston office.

As ERA continued to expand, we onboarded more engineers to meet the demands of our expanding customer base.  Given the mission-critical nature of our products, it was vital that we established a robust support infrastructure.

After a period of unprecedented growth in the London market, we moved operations lock, stock, and barrel to Soho, placing ERA at the heart of the vibrant post-production/VFX marketplace.

After five successful years in Soho and as the business and team continued to expand, we moved out to Kings Cross, London and started our journey to becoming a hosted services provider.

Introduction of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Up until 2015 we were developing our own kit as well as procuring products from various manufacturers.  However, a shift was occurring in the market; cloud was emerging, and customers were buying kit in a different way making it harder for us to be profitable.

Anticipating the change and speaking to customers, we took the view that we needed to become a service provider and move into the cloud space.  2015 proved to be a significant milestone for us as we launched the early offerings of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to our established customer base and took on our first IaaS client in post-production.  This positioned us at the forefront of innovation, pioneering one of the earliest implementations of this service.

A turning point to Chesham

One year later, we made the move to our current offices in Chesham, Buckinghamshire to be closer to the major data centre hubs located in West London, leveraging the local data centre capacity, low-cost power availability and highly skilled engineers.  Being a short tube ride away from London allowed us to maintain our service to customers in the city while also expanding our operations beyond its border.

Ahead of the Curve

We were pioneers not only with our cutting-edge offerings and technology but also in embracing flexible working practices long before the onset of the pandemic, allowing us to attract top talent in our market.

Providing our team with unwavering support has always been a cornerstone of our organisational philosophy.  We understand that fostering a culture of support and encouragement is essential for nurturing long-standing relationships with our employees.  By investing in professional development, providing flexible working, and maintaining open lines of communication, we empower our people to thrive in their roles and contribute to the growth of the company.  In return, we’ve cultivated a dedicated team of individuals who are deeply committed to our company’s mission and values.

Long lasting and sustainable relationships

We’ve been privileged to maintain long-lasting and sustainable customer relationships.  In fact, organisations such as Jellyfish Pictures, Turner Broadcast, Evolutions and ENVY have been valued customers since our inception.

We attribute this to our reputation for reliability coupled with our innovative drive, continuously pushing boundaries in the way we deliver services and influence how customers consume infrastructure.

Accelerating the move to the cloud

Although Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) had been experiencing rapid growth prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and cloud computing awareness had increased, the unprecedented circumstances accelerated the demand even further.

We worked tirelessly during the onset of the pandemic with our customers to effectively transition them to remote working environments.  While discussions regarding migrating to the cloud had been ongoing with many of our customers before the pandemic, it wasn’t their primary focus.  But cloud was quickly elevated to the top of their agenda, leaving us inundated!

Strategic Investment fuels our growth

In 2022 we partnered with Rockpool investments to support the business through a period of fast organic growth.  As demand for our services continues to grow, the investment from Rockpool allowed us to increase resources, scale up our IaaS offerings and accelerate our growth trajectory.

It was at this point, that Roger Flynn joined the board as a Non-Executive Chairman, a highly experienced private equity Chairman with extensive media and technology expertise.

What does the future hold for ERA?

In a market that’s constantly evolving, predicting the next twenty-five years seems nearly impossible.  However, over the next five years we are poised for significant growth as we expand into Canada and India, as well as tapping into new markets such as oil and gas, architectural and gaming.

We are continuously developing further service offerings and continue to bring innovation to the market.  Our most recent offering, a burst render solution was launched in November 2023 and was designed to help studios keep up with rendering requirements of modern VFX and animation projects.  A unique subscription-based cloud rendering model; it allows studios to remain competitive and manage workflows without paying large upfront costs for expensive hardware or rental services.

Alongside market and services expansion, we are committed to strengthening our team by adding in diverse individuals to bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table.  Our recently appointed Sales and Marketing Director, Sas Huntwood is eager to grow her team as we reestablish ourselves back in London with the opening of our new office in Warwick Street, Westminster.

Our technical team is undergoing an exciting transformation as it doubles in size to meet the demands of our expanding operations.  With this significant increase in people, we are ready to tackle even the most complex technical challenges for our clients and to make IaaS more accessible to even more companies at an affordable cost.

By investing in our people, products and services and exploring new markets, we’re confident in our ability to sustainably grow and thrive for the next twenty-five years!

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