When Hollywood Monster boss Tim Andrews binned what he thought was a spam email, it nearly cost him an MBE
As boss of global signage company Hollywood Monster, Tim Andrews, receives hundreds of random emails every day. “If they’re spam or email addresses I don’t recognise, I just delete them,” he says. Which is exactly what he did when one with an address starting with the prefix BD21 dropped into his inbox.
A few hours later, Tim was searching through his bin when as chance would have it he clicked on the message – and discovered it was the Cabinet Office informing him that he was to receive an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and would he please complete the attached form as his acceptance!
“I don’t know what would have happened had I not come across that email again,” says Tim. “Maybe it would have been a bit like losing your lottery ticket and I would have lost the MBE?” Tim was awarded the Honour for his services to local charity LoveBrum which has a mission to raise awareness, support and make cash awards to Birmingham’s unsung local volunteers and causes.
The MBE was a bright spot in what has been an otherwise difficult 2021 for Tim as he has met the challenges to his business from the pandemic. Ironically, it should be a time of celebration for Hollywood Monster as it marks 30 years since Tim and his late father set up the business from the loft of the family home.
HIGH PROFILE CLIENTS
“I always wanted to have my own business,” says Tim. “And always wanted to go into some kind of printing. We started doing signage for building contractors. Back then, we used to have to physically paint signs. Then as the technology developed, it moved to vinyl and then digital printing. We are more of a digital printer now, having invested more than £4million in a state-of-the-art digital printer. We can produce anything from an exhibition stand to a huge wrap around a major construction site.”
High profile clients include the likes of Aston Villa and Birmingham City football clubs, McDonalds fast food restaurants, the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games, ProLogis Developments, IM Properties and Centrick Properties. During the pandemic, Hollywood Monster adapted by taking on projects such as signage for social distancing and the multi-coloured banners used to cover seating in football stadia. “They were all short-term projects,” said Tim, “not repeat work as we would normally hope to get.” Just keeping things ticking over has felt like an achievement in itself.
With exhibition and events as one of the core pillars of the business, Tim has had to take some tough decisions to streamline the business and get it leaner and fitter to capitalise on the much-awaited ‘bounce back’. “The rebound is beginning to happen,” he said when we spoke in late August. “But I believe that it is going to take at least two, maybe three, years to get back to the level we were at before Covid. The only thing you can say is that we are in a healthier state as we have had to take a long, hard look at our overheads.” Like everyone, Tim just hopes the worst is over – another lockdown would likely spell the end of not just his business but hundreds of others.
The charity sector has been hit especially hard during the pandemic with hard-pressed businesses being forced to rein back their support. This has made the role of LoveBrum, which Tim co-founded in 2014, all the more vital in trying to help ‘hidden gem’ community projects and volunteers keep going. “The idea for LoveBrum came out of a seven-countries-in-seven-days charity bike ride which I took part in,” said Tim. “We met up after talking about what the charity world looked like and what Birmingham needed. It felt like Birmingham lacked a bit of civic pride compared to other cities.”
Tim said the best way to help the city get that pride back was to help showcase the incredible people who run the huge number of small charities and organisations. “For years as I grew up, I was always being ridiculed by people because I’m from Birmingham,” he said. “It’s nowhere near as bad now as it was, but it’s still not where it needs to be. Maybe people have a down on the city because of the football teams! We want LoveBrum to help people celebrate our great city.”
All of LoveBrum’s giving is raised from membership fees and fund-raising, with 100 per cent of what is raised going to the good causes. Costs such as overheads and admin come from corporate sponsorship, and Tim says LoveBrum is always in desperate need of more support in that direction. LoveBrum picks three different causes each month, with the 7,000 members deciding which cause receives the most money.
Tim has raised well over £750,000 for local causes by organising and hosting charity events. “To receive a royal honour for my involvement with LoveBrum was a massive surprise,” said Tim. “When I received, deleted and retrieved the email, I thought it was a wind-up. I got my two lads, who know a thing or two about this kind of thing, to check it out for me – and I was amazed when they said it was genuine.”