Here’s how it all began – an exclusive interview with Jim of Jim Vyse Arks!
Can you tell us how Jim Vyse Arks began?
I’m originally from a farming background and spent over 30 years being involved with dairy cows and milking equipment. Then, a mid-life crisis encouraged me to change direction!
A friend suggested I put my carpentry skills to good use and before I knew it I was making chicken houses. A few adverts later and my houses were spreading across the UK.
The rest as they say is history!
What makes Jim Vyse Arks stand out from its competitors?
I have always believed that providing our customers with a combination of practical designs and sensible prices is the key to success. When you add in an attractive design that looks great in a garden, orchard, or field you’re on to a winner.
I think that’s why Jim Vyse Arks has carved a niche in the market and been successful for over 10 years.
Where is the most exotic destination a Jim Vyse Arks’ product has been shipped to?
We’ve had our products go all over the world, including Swiss Chalets in Switzerland and Arks in the Orkneys. Personally I think that sending two shipments of Swiss Chalets to the Falkland Islands has been the most exotic location so far.
We also regularly send products to France, Italy, Spain, and the Channel Islands.
Of all the poultry houses you’ve created, which has been your favourite and why?
Since we began I’ve created over 10,000 houses for every species of poultry imaginable, so it’s hard to choose a favourite.
However, if I really had to pick it would be the Standard Duck House, one of our most popular products.
I also really enjoyed designing and building this large bespoke chicken house and run.
Who or what first inspired you to get involved in poultry keeping?
As with most things it all goes back to my childhood. Many years ago I won, what was supposed to be, a table cockerel at a village fete. Readers will be pleased to know he joined our family flocks and never made it to the table, providing much pleasure and amusement to the family for several years.
Do you still keep your own poultry?
Unfortunately I don’t have the time I would like to devote to chickens or ducks at home, but my neighbours keep me up to date with latest trends in poultry keeping and provide me with manure for my garden!
In your opinion, what makes a good chicken house?
A practical design made from durable materials, which combines a high standard of welfare, good ventilation, and is easy to clean and control disease.
What is the top piece of advice you would give to someone shopping for a chicken house?
I think taking our motto of “attractive, robust, and practical” provides a very good guideline for buying a chicken house.
What has been your career highlight since starting Jim Vyse Arks?
Seeing products in the press or on television (our blue and white painted Goose House was featured on the Alan Titchmarsh Show and model Jemma Kidd has a chicken house that was pictured in Elle Decoration) has to be right up there.
However, my favourite part of the job is getting to travel around the UK and meet such wonderful and welcoming customers when I deliver their purchases. I’m privileged to be able to leave the workshop and explore the UK when I get orders for places I haven’t been or don’t know well.
Finally, how do you like your eggs?
The best way to have eggs has to be slightly runny scrambled eggs because you always use more that way!