It turns out that it has been quite a year for Mansfield Pollard, who design, build and install bespoke, air handling, kitchen ventilation, vibration and acoustic control solutions, Andrew told me.
In fact, their kitchen ventilation business has almost doubled, they are “flat out” with air handling solution orders, and they are picking up new business from existing and new customers nicely.
What's changed? I asked.
Getting closer to customers
It might sound trite, but Mansfield Pollard's team have spent the last year or more getting closer to their customers. That means they are now invited to attend meetings with their customers' clients to support them. That demonstrates a high level of trust which is hard-earned. That trust has come from delivering 100% on-time with all their projects so far despite a changeable market.
The strategy has taken time to embed itself in the company, but it is paying off. One glaring example struck me as soon as I arrived at their factory. There is so much more new business coming in that the main car park is now a no-go zone because of the orders waiting to go out to client sites.
Mansfield Pollard core business is air management expertise. There are plenty of air management companies in the market.
How do they differentiate themselves so that conversations don't just come down to price?
Andrew Glen explained that having a strong relationship built on trust and helping their customers is why they have been so successful. Talking solely about price could be seen as a failure for the company's sales team. For example, a typical conversation about a new air management solution will focus on how their solution can be funded by the efficiency savings they will make.
Andrew explained the background to the changes since I last met him:
"We have taken a measured approach to the implementation of our business improvement agenda.
“Our Kitchen Ventilation business unit was the first one to benefit from our activities and the relatively short lead-times in that market have enabled us to see a positive impact on our sales numbers. For the twelve months ending 31 December 2015 sales were up over 230% compared to the previous year.
“The projects in our Vibration and Acoustic Control and Air Handling business units typically have much longer lead-times between the initial enquiry and the placing of an order however we are seeing significantly increased levels of activity in respect of the value of the projects in both business units although, as yet year on year sales growth, is more modest and in double digits.”
It sounds so simple. But, it is surprising how many businesses design products badly and are late in delivering them to customers.
Experienced but not complacent
And, the team is not complacent either.
This year Mansfield Pollard is re-branding to reflect the changing nature of the sectors it serves. Andrew gave me a sneak preview of how the business will communicate its proposition to its customers. Like all good marketing, the messages, images and branding were simple, clear and stood out. Customers will easily know how the company can help them.
“Overall I’m very confident that the work which we have undertaken and will continue to undertake to bring our business closer to our customer is going to pay dividends in terms of long term growth for Mansfield Pollard and real added value for our clients."