Marriage lines are important to Heath and Kelly Groves. The couple are partners in every sense and are now set to share the secrets of business harmony with the world.
In what has been “a manic year” for them and their business The Sundown Group, they have still found time to work on a ‘his and her’ book looking at how couples can make business partnerships work for them.
Called ‘The EnLIVEning’ it will spell out the rules each brings to business and it promises to be an interesting and entertaining read.
Heath explains: “I’ve had a set of rules from the beginning and continually review them to make sure I’m not making the same mistakes.
“I’ve now got 56 of them. Kelly has the same types of rules but when you look at them, they are the opposite to mine.
“We’ve both got our own business coaches and they told us, ‘you need to be writing all this down’.
“Working with your spouse or partner is more common than you think; that’s where the idea of the book came from, to show it from both perspectives. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.”
Kelly adds: “We do take different views and it works well for us. The main thing is although we have different opinions, we always come to the same answer, regardless of how we get there.”
We build very specific products to meet specific needs. We don't build technology for technology's sake.
She adds: “We both acknowledge that work is work and home is home. That’s been harder during lockdown and I’ve been home schooling our two children as well most of the year. We do support each other well.”
That support has been more important than ever in a year which has seen them both struck down by Covid-19, right in the middle of working towards ISO 27001 certification - an international standard on how to manage information security.
A four-day audit proved successful but it was challenging to say the least. Kelly says: “We had completely different experiences, no two symptoms were the same.
“Heath lost his sense of taste and smell, I felt like I had brick in my chest and banging headaches and was really lethargic. It was a strange experience.”
Sundown began life in 2006 after Heath left the Army in 2003. He persuaded Kelly to give up her nursing career to join him as operations director.
The couple, both now aged 42, were school sweethearts in Rossendale. They went out for a time while in the same year at Fearns High School in Bacup, now the Valley Leadership Academy.
On leave in 1998, Heath found out one of his friends was going out with Kelly’s friend. She managed to convince Kelly to go on a date with Heath and now they have been married for 21 years.
Sundown began as a training academy for former military personnel and then an IT provider. It shifted focus in 2009 as the move towards Cloud Technology started to grow, having been involved with the development of cloud technology for Microsoft, specifically O365, Sundown soon became front runners in the cyber security arena.
Heath, who spent eight and a half years in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, still puts on the uniform as a specialist reservist officer with the Royal Signals, utilising his cyber security skills. He left the regulars as a corporal and is now a captain.
It's all part of an action-packed life for the couple. The past 12 months has also seen Sundown continue to roll out its pioneering ‘Yellow Bracelet’ scheme.
Using the company’s patented encrypted algorithm technology, the bracelet allows medical staff from across different health and social care services to access important patient information more easily.
The aim is to create a more joined-up way of working and to cut unnecessary admissions, reduce discharge times and free up beds and resources in hospitals.
Piloted on elderly people in Northamptonshire, the bracelet reduced the rate of hospital admission of elderly and frail population by 50 per cent.
Information about the patient's home care package along with other details such as existing health conditions and medication is uploaded to the system and the bracelet uses a QR code to perform credential-less login to the system for NHS workers. Without the need for apps, usernames or passwords – they can use any device to scan as long as they are a healthcare professional.
If the patient has to be admitted to hospital, medical staff on the wards can use the bracelet to find out about current care plans, including medication, and to get more information about the patient’s current social care as well as contact next of kin and GPs directly.
It also saves medical teams valuable time by giving them information on long-term pre-existing conditions and even has a Covid-19 tracking capability and alerting system, going red if the patient is displaying symptoms so that staff can take the appropriate action.
The couple believe the system and its technology can play a major role in the development of Covid passports in the future.
‘Game-changing’ is a phrase that is often overused, but the bracelet and other major medical projects being delivered by Sundown and its 37 strong team in Lancashire and the USA really are.
The ‘Rare Disease Opinions’ app it has developed for the National Organisation for Rare Disorders (NORD) has gone live in the USA and will be rolled out to other countries in the new year.
Heath explains: “We were brought in as Microsoft preferred partner to work with the global commission for rare diseases.
“The app is now there to help doctors gain speedy access to specialists who can consult virtually on rare disorders.”
The average length of time from symptom onset to an accurate diagnosis of a rare disease is about five years or longer.
Rare diseases often go undiagnosed because patients, families and physicians have limited awareness of the disease and symptoms may not always be evident to healthcare providers who have never encountered the condition.
Symptoms are often hidden behind more common illnesses and initially may appear to be of only minor concern. Delays in diagnosis and misdiagnosis can create major problems for the patients, most of whom are children.
Sundown’s app will give paediatricians across the world a direct line to geneticists and specialists at any time.
Then there is the UKONS app, released in December. It is the cumulation of three years’ hard work by the company to ensure the data provided from the UK Oncology Nursing Society to healthcare professionals is continuously up to date.
It outlines all the current guidelines for the initial management of adult patients who have cancer diagnosis, and present as an emergency or unplanned admission with a complication of their disease or treatment.
Sundown initially match-funded the project, it will host, develop and further enhance the project moving forward, free of charge.
Heath says: “Every member of staff that has worked on this project has either had cancer themselves or had a close personal relative with cancer. It has been a labour of love.”
Wellbeing has also been increasingly important internally with lockdown and home working. Kelly said: “We bring the whole team together three times a day, making sure everyone is okay. We’ve also got health and wellbeing sessions planned for the new year.
The winner of this year’s Innovation in Business category at the Red Rose Awards, Sundown’s turnover is set to hit £4m this year, with the US operation reaching $2m.
Heath says: “We build very specific products to meet specific needs. We don’t build technology for technology’s sake. We look at a problem and how to fix it and we use very different, emerging technologies to do that.”
Staff numbers have increased by six during Covid. The Groves had looked to make that even more with an idea to create a new division employing 35.
They applied to the government’s Kickstart scheme for funding to match the £120,0000 they were looking to pump into the project, however were unsuccessful. Heath says: “We haven’t been told why.”
It’s a rare setback in what has been a memorable year for the couple and the business. Heath says: “Everyone really has stepped up to the plate.”
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