Keeping Appliances Alive for Longer

W. Young

11. Sustainable Cities and Communities 12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action

Overview

W. Young is a family business and at the heart of it is minimizing waste and reusing parts, all while helping customers save money and providing an excellent service. W. Young contributes to a circular economy and keeps products operating longer. It is a fantastic example of a successful business that benefits the environment and the community.


Author

Charlotte Eastwood

Charlotte Eastwood

School

University of Strathclyde

University of Strathclyde

Professor

Duduzile Rance

Duduzile Rance

Innovation

Initially, many people sought out a repair business as households simply did not have the disposable income to purchase a brand-new product - repairs cost a fraction of this. The domestic appliance repair industry is currently more important than ever, with the increase in trying to be more sustainable and decreasing waste output.

According to Statista (2021), there was an overall increase in major domestic appliance revenue from 2012 to 2020, suggesting that today's consumers are more open to the repair of appliances now than before, with an indication that this will be the trend in the future as well. Increasing product lifespans is not only one of the most effective ways to reduce waste and disposal of domestic appliances, but it also contributes to the circular economy, where the goal is to keep products and resources in use (Laitala et al., 2021).

Keeping Appliances Alive for Longer

One of many landfills - Full of disposed domestic appliances. Source: Daily Mail, 2014

Inspiration

W. Young is a family-run domestic appliance repair business that was established in 1963 by William Young. Mr. Young was a service engineer for Hoover and eventually, he was made redundant. He found himself jobless, but he found a way to utilize the skills learned from repairing washing machines. He went into business with two other former Hoover employees in the 60s, before going solo in 1965 and setting up a shop in Carluke, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. The initial motivation for the business innovation was for employment, so William could provide for his wife and children, and “he thought the business would be lucrative. In 1989, William’s son John took over W. Young, after experiencing a challenging time during his career.

With the current huge focus on sustainability and saving the environment, W. Young has never been more relevant, with an increase in people wanting to try to repair instead of buying a whole new appliance - which is both costly and contributes to waste.

Overall impact

John feels that his business has made a positive impact on the surrounding community, having received ‘handwritten letters in the past giving him personal praise’ and he says “[this] always feels good to be valued for the work done.”

The biggest impact and one of the most memorable moments for John are when he was told he “Saved Christmas” after fixing an oven on Christmas Eve. Word of mouth and customer loyalty is at the heart of W. Young with many customers who have used the services for years.

On W. Young’s Facebook page, there are numerous reviews, “fabulous” and “lifesaver” are some frequent phrases used when a review is left. It is clear that the service W. Young provides is essential to many people (W. Young - Facebook, 2022).

Business benefit

Since John inherited the business from his father, he has been the only person working at W. Young. This has only strengthened the business' reputation as customers know that they will always get the same high standard of service.

Having been around for so long in the same area, W. Young has built up a large customer base with many customers who have used the service for years. Word of mouth and customer loyalty is at the heart of W. Young, people trust the quality of service and friendly face provided so why would they use anyone else?

As W. Young has a good business reputation, during the COVID-19 pandemic they took on extra work from a supplier who couldn't find installation engineers. This was of great benefit to the supplier and its customers and has only added strength to their long-term business relationship.

Social and environmental benefit

The main benefits to society that W. Young provides is that people save money on buying brand new appliances. Unlike many similar services, W. Young does not have a callout charge and always offers competitive prices, this gives incentives for people to use W. Young compared to other service providers.

The main environmental benefit is that this has a “massive impact” on decreasing the number of appliances that would just end up in a landfill. W. Young “keeps appliances alive longer” contributing to the idea of a circular economy. Many domestic appliances contain hazardous substances and materials which can harm the environment when they are disposed of, so repairing instead can lower the owner’s carbon footprint (Murphy's Home Services, 2015).

The circular economy of domestic appliance repair contributes to reducing waste created, reusing parts and resources instead of disposing of them, recycling any materials e.g., metal, so they can be reused in manufacturing. As well as the environmental benefits of a circular economy, the economic (user and supply chain) and social benefits speak for themselves. There is much opportunity for job creation in this sector, encouraging people to use these services as there is more availability and boosting incentives for appliance manufacturers to produce more ‘repair friendly’ products (Bressanelli, G., 2020; Green Alliance, 2015). In the short term, John’s customers save money, and in the long term, it ensures the quantity of non-recyclable products in landfills stays to a minimum.


United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Contributions of W. Young

UN SDG 12, focuses on sustainable consumption and production, and trying to manage the way we dispose of waste into the environment (UNDP, 2022). The more people that try to get repair services like ‘W. Young’ to fix their appliance the closer we are to reducing the consumption of new domestic appliances and being more aware of the limited resources available. It is far more sustainable to repair something where the output of waste is minimal.

W. Young also contributes to UN SDG 13, Climate Action. Sustainable natural resource management is key to reducing the deadly impact of climate change (UNDP, 2022). If the demand for brand new domestic appliances such as washing machines and tumble dryers decreases, then less of these will be produced, reducing consumption of resources to produce these goods, and decreasing the use of energy.

UN SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities (UNDP, 2022) is contributed to, as John tries to reuse the parts of old, unwanted appliances from customers or otherwise, if they are of a usable quality then these parts can be used to fix more appliances, keeping them in circulation instead of being left in a rubbish dump.

Interview

John Young, Owner

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W. Young

W. Young

Carluke, Scotland, GB

Business Website: https://www.w-young.co.uk/

Year Founded: 1963

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

W. Young is a family-run domestic appliance repair business founded in 1963. They are based in Carluke, Scotland, and repair in North and South Lanarkshire. At the heart of this business is minimizing waste, reusing parts, and giving new life to appliances that would otherwise be sent to landfills.