Change is Good

Change is Good

17th January 2023

There’s been a lot of economic turbulence in recent months resulting in growth forecasts plummeting, the market crashing and confidence plunging to an all-time low. In this article Managing Director Neil Weeks shares his vision for growth against this uncertain economic backdrop.

The events of the last few months – in fact years, have most certainly thrown a great deal of challenges at businesses. Across all industries, rarely unprecedented incidents such as the pandemic, market crashes and soaring inflation have meant that traditional forecasting and planning methods have become largely ineffective and businesses have had to adapt to frequently changing circumstances.

Whilst unfamiliar, this isn’t necessarily a wholly negative situation and it has for many, including ourselves, led to significant improvements and growth in areas we can control.

To date, relationships have played a huge part in our success and we will continue to focus on this strategy in the future. The strong bonds we have developed with housebuilders and other contractors have not only steered sales but have provided valuable insight into how we should best structure our operations, to meet fluctuating demand and the needs of our customers. Being able to discuss in advance potential projects and providing advice on product specification has ensured we are ahead of the game in terms of planning for production and supply, so that product is where it is needed when it is needed. This efficiency has undoubtedly supported our reputation for reliability and underpinned growth across the board. Similarly, it has also supported us to adapt existing products and develop new solutions that meet the needs and solve the problems our customers face.

Looking ahead, by continuing to pay keen attention to our relationships and what our customers on the ground are saying – not just relying solely on overall industry forecasts, we will be well placed to adapt to any unforeseen circumstances that arise. There are simply no substitute for relationships.  If sales are down customers will tell us; if a huge development has been approved – we’ll be amongst the first to know – and we’ll react accordingly.

In our area of the construction industry, we have also had to adapt to improvements and changes to building regulations which will impact demand moving forward. The newly revised Building Safety Act has led to a change in customer habits and as we continue to work with our customers old and new, to educate them on the solutions needed to achieve modern standards of building, this too will help us to grow and provide the industry with the fire protection solutions it needs. It presents a real opportunity for us to demonstrate our expertise and the high performance standards of our products to a wider market base.

Managing growth internally is something we have been giving much consideration to. As a business we are part way through our journey of transition from a family run enterprise to a much larger commercial organisation. This has paved the way for many exciting changes that are supporting our growth effectively and will continue to form part of our strategy in the future. On the production side of the business for example, we have introduced new software that has improved our manufacturing efficiency by 6% in the first month alone and has cut lead times in half.

The theme of improvement and pushing the bar higher plays a key role in our vision for growth. Earlier this year we became the only UK manufacturer of low rise cavity barriers to be awarded internationally recognised third-party product certification. Whilst not a requisite, this certification demonstrates our commitment to providing market leading products which far exceed standards and make buildings and homes safer and more sustainable.

As customers begin to create the golden thread we are committed to supporting them with products that not only exceed the levels of fire protection required, but support with accountability. For example, many of our products play a vital role in the containment of a fire but must be installed correctly in order for them to perform in the intended way. To support customers on site, we have introduced QR codes on our Open State Cavity Barrier product, giving installers access to easy-to-follow tutorials on the correct handling and installation of the cavity barrier whilst on site. This is proving to be really successful and a positive move with customers which is why we plan to roll it out onto all products in the future.