Then and now: Our team tell us what’s changed at TWO

Here at TWO Services, we’re often complimented on our legacy.

As you will have discovered in our recent article for H&C News, our founder Alan Osborn laid strong foundations for our commercial cleaning and maintenance business back in the late 80s – and his hard work certainly paid off, as we are now considered one of the best-established businesses of our kind in the UK.

In the piece, Alan discussed some of the changes that he’s seen throughout the last 35 years. Fascinated by the striking differences between the then and now, we thought we’d ask several long-standing members of the TWO team for their thoughts on the changes they have experienced over the decades, and what these developments have meant for our business, our customers, and the sector as a whole.

Looking back with the TWO team

Barry Osborn

Our Managing Director Barry joined TWO Services on a full-time basis in 1989.

“The biggest change I’ve seen has been how we conduct the business. We have never taken our client relationships for granted, but now more than ever we understand the value of looking after the people who choose to work with us. Our clients appreciate that we are fair, reasonable, transparent, and good to work with – and their loyalty has carried us through recessions, pandemics, and all sorts of tough times during our lifespan.”

Jon Osborn

Finance Director Jon was one of his father Alan’s first hires back in 1987, when TWO was first established.

“We have certainly been more proactive in recent years when it comes to sourcing new opportunities. Perhaps this is because we have grown in confidence, or maybe it’s an approach that’s been forced on us amid rising competition and the challenges we faced during the Covid crisis. Either way, we’re not afraid to hold back now, and we’re more committed to achieving our goals than ever.”

Oliver Smith

Oliver may be the youngest member of the leadership team, but he brought a great deal of catering industry experience into the fold when he joined TWO back in 2019 as our Business Development Manager. He has since taken on the position of our National Sales Director.

“My job is to grow the business – and this is what we’ve done! Since I started with TWO, the sales team has almost doubled, and we have seen new sales growth of £1.5 million in 2023 alone. As a by-product of this, our North and South division cleaning departments have expanded, and our maintenance department has doubled its engineer base.

“So, purely in terms of visibility, reach and tangible sales, we’re in our best position ever. My department has worked extremely hard to reach our latest milestones and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Sarah Groom

Sarah has been an integral part of our accounts department since she joined the business in 1996.

“One of the most fascinating things from my perspective has been just how much tech has improved! I remember using the big, clunky computers of the late 90s. I remember the introduction of mobile phones and the internet, both of which have transformed the way we connect with our staff, clients and suppliers, and changed the way we operate for good. Every time something new comes along, there’s always a learning curve, but generally I’d say that better technology has enabled us to deliver our work faster without compromising on quality, especially in the accounts department – I’m so glad I’m not having to rely on pens and paper anymore!.”

Carl Twaites

Carl is a senior engineer and our Field Service Manager. He’s been with us for more than 15 years – and having a very hands-on and customer-facing role means he has seen our industry and its appliances change first-hand.

“The technology within most catering equipment has evolved so much in the last 20 years or so. Many appliances – including dishwashers, combis, water boilers and panini grills – now use multiple printed circuit boards that require memory updates. It’s another job we have to factor into our maintenance work.

“Aside from this, engineers now have to gain access to inbuilt data to find faults. We handle a huge range of appliances from many different manufacturers, and each brand comes with its own training, so we need to dedicate a lot of our time to learning how to operate, fix and maintain our customers’ investments. In general, engineers need a lot more experience and knowledge to work on the broad range of options that are out on the market today.

“Another thing I’ve noticed is that some basic gas appliances that once had an open burner under a heat exchanger now have blowers which force the gas through into the heat exchanger, saving fuel. These appliances require combustion testing and setting up if required annually.

“Also, decades ago, interlocked gas systems were not incorporated into most sites. Now, every site with commercial gas appliances must be interlocked and annually tested and inspected.

“It’s still imperative that our customers make sure their equipment is serviced annually to ensure all components are operating correctly, particularly cooling fans, air filters and relays that prevent PCBs and other electric components from overheating.”

While it’s important to recognise what’s changed, we think it’s just as interesting to focus on what hasn’t.

TWO still provides a reliable, professional service. Our team still invests a lot of time and energy into customer care. We’re still true to our original family ethos. Having strong, clear values – and sticking to them – has been integral to our success over the years, as well as our ability to retain our brilliant talent.