John explained how he started the business in 1972 from 'humble beginnings' and how it evolved into the group today, which is designing, making, installing and maintaining heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems for retail and industrial customers. Weatherite has no products on its shelves. Everything it produces is bespoke.
Communications are important in the business. But, to evolve you also need to invest to be successful. John explained that making bespoke solutions requires a lot of brain power. They do not rely solely on computers to design their solutions. The deep experience of the team is crucial to their success. They have a joint venture in research and development with a local university. The venture and the approach encourages people to think and get away from 'the norm'.
Self-reliance and investment
By investing back into the business, Weatherite has not had to rely heavily on bankers to innovate and evolve. John would, no doubt, have had some equally succinct and descriptive phrases if he had had to lean on fickle banks for investment.
Right for the UK
“We place customers on a pedestal,” he said. “Customers need a secure route to solve their problems. We are very good at solving their problems.”
As a result, the UK's production approach evolved into a market which has a number of smaller manufacturers using low cost machinery to make products suitable for UK conditions. Now, Weatherite ships its products across the globe. On the factory floor on the day I visited, a system was ready to be shipped to Qatar.
John and his team saw this need and set up the business to help UK customers with UK solutions. Weatherite creates a wide range of solutions for customers who need anything from data centre cooling to heating solutions to air conditioning in large buildings. The company has a long relationship with many of its customers. For example, Marks and Spencer has been a customer for 30 years. Tesco is another long-standing customer.
Despite the long relationships with customers, John is not complacent.
The teamwork, great communications and experience built the company's reputation in the industry for meeting and beating customers' expectations. Customers have exacting demands on cost, space and efficiency. Weatherite is very good at providing what their customers want and need.
Biggest year for new projects
A major cinema chain is a new customer. John cited a project where they replaced an air conditioning system on the roof a site which had to fit into the existing space used by the old system. Shutting down the theatres entirely was out of the question. Weatherite managed to design, build and install a new, far more efficient system in the same space. The customer lost no revenues and is now saving enough on its energy bill to help provide a quick pay back.
“We have never had any major problems in our business. It is because we never walk away from problems. If something goes wrong, we always fix it.”