Civil engineer makes radical career change and sets up bespoke design company

Friday 23 November 2018

A York-based former civil engineer had a eureka moment and decided to retire from a successful 27-year career in engineering to set up an independent design company specialising in making bespoke fine furniture.

Richard Frost has gone back to the drawing board and swapped the vocational hustle and bustle for the more laid-back atmosphere of a carpentry workshop.

Richard, aged 50, took inspiration from a conversation he had with friends during a short break in the Lakes, when they all answered the question “what would you do if you had the chance?” Richard had always been interested in art, aesthetics and carpentry so decided to combine all three and make the leap into self-employment.   

Richard, originally from Clitheroe in Lancashire, had the biggest decision to make in his professional life, whether to end his three-decade association with engineering (mainly in the rail industry) to explore the exciting design world. The timely opportunity to take redundancy was also a card put onto the career table.

Instead of making any brash choices Richard turned to his financial advisors, Explore Wealth Management, to ensure any decision made wouldn’t be damaging to his monetary situation.

“I just thought to myself, why wait? Why wait until I’m retired to pursue my dreams,” said Richard.   

He added: “With any big decision I wanted to talk through my options to make sure I’d have financial security when starting up my new venture. Explore Wealth played devil’s advocate as we weighed up the pros and cons. It was decided if the time was right and the appropriate measures were put in place then why not. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Richard thought long and hard about which direction to take and he chose the route of self-employment. He sees the creation of furniture as a welcome diversion from the competitive cut and thrust of business.

Richard used some of the money from his redundancy to fund a year’s woodwork course at the prestigious Waters and Acland Furniture School based in Staveley in Cumbria.  

Richard gained his civil engineering qualifications at Coventry Polytechnic. He lives in York and splits his time between his home office and workshop in a village just to the south of York.  Richard is regularly joined by his pet lurcher, Dickens.

Richard is particularly proud of three recent commissions, a console table made out of walnut, a chair containing interconnecting curves with an art deco influence and a highly patterned oak media unit with scallop shell inspired sliding doors. Richard uses locally sourced materials from Duffield Timber near Ripon. The average commission can take up to 8 to 10 weeks to complete.   

Richard is a keen hiker and also enjoys indoor bouldering. His favourite walking location being Craster in Northumberland.

Richard brought in the services of North-East based family-run, Explore Wealth Management for their expertise with pensions and investments.  Richard said: “When it comes to making big judgements about your finances it’s always worth getting advice. In my case it was Explore Wealth who helped me towards making the right decisions. Their guidance has ensured the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders and I can pursue my dream job!”

Richard initially approached Explore Wealth Management for advice on redundancy and aspirations for early retirement. Stephen Sumner, Director of Explore Wealth Management, said: “From a human point of view you need to be really sure that this huge change is right for you and your family, and obtaining financial advice is a very positive move.

“A financial adviser can always help you collate this information to see whether your plan is realistic, both now and in the future, without the risk of running out of money no matter what happens.


“When initially meeting Richard, we looked at his existing assets, savings and pensions. We were able to analyse whether he could afford his career change without harming his financial security.


“Richard is really enjoying his new job and experiencing a much better work-life balance.”


For further information about Explore Wealth Management please visit their website or follow them on Twitter @explorewealth. Likewise please visit the newly launched or follow Richard on Instagram at Richard Frost Design.