Woodwork skills keeping former diver on dry land

Michael Rankin became a seller on notontheghighstreet.com after being approached by the online marketplace

Michael Rankin became a seller on notontheghighstreet.com after being approached by the online marketplace

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A FORMER commercial diver who turned to woodwork as something to do between jobs has turned his hobby into a full-time business with ambitious expansion plans, looking to grow its workforce and move to larger premises.

Michael Rankin runs Wud­werx from Liberton, in Edinburgh, selling handcrafted products including bird boxes, “bee hotels” in a range of sizes, and even hedgehog houses.

One of Michael Rankin's bee hotels

One of Michael Rankin's bee hotels

Having started out doing woodwork as a child, he told Scotland on Sunday that his diving, being contract work gave him the time to take it up again “as a little something to do” while onshore.

He first made bird boxes and then expanded his range to the bee hotels, and “from there it started to take off,” said Rankin, who also served in Iraq with the Territorial Army.

He then became a seller on notontheghighstreet.com, after being approached by the online marketplace, and said it boosted his sales to the point where he could give up diving.

Rankin was part of the Edinburgh launch for notonthehighstreet’s Colour Saturday on 5 December with the organisation’s chief executive, Simon Belsham, the latter saying the day was to celebrate small creative businesses, which are “bringing skills and adding a more thoughtful approach to the gifting season”.

Belsham also flagged the rise in self-employment that emerged from the recession, and added: “Not only can you start a business on your kitchen table, but you can actually fit it in with your life more.”

Rankin said consumers are seeking out handcrafted products, and are also more aware of green issues, particularly those affecting bees.

He said: “I plan to keep expanding. I basically bootstrapped the business from the very beginning, so it’s paid for itself the entire way, and I’d like to keep doing that and keep growing it.”

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