Taylor and Braithwaite proves that committing to its customer service strengths and responding to market demands is key to success in a market that is facing considerable growth as well as a number of industry-wide challenges
When Construction & Civil Engineering last spoke to Taylor and Braithwaite back in April this year Sales Director, Ian Burton was confident about the company’s future despite a slower year and clear challenges in the industry. Sales in 2014 were unprecedented within the company’s history jumping by 40 per cent from £10 million to £14 million, but Ian admits that this has not continued through into 2015 for a number of reasons. “It has been a harder year,” he says. “We will be down on turnover and volume on a level with 2013 again, but it has played out as I thought it would. Generally the market is busy and the future looks optimistic with plenty to do in the housing industry as well as infrastructure. However, the problem still lays in the shortage of skilled labour.”
When asked if he had seen any improvement in the labour shortage over the last year Ian noted that he hadn’t and that most of the customers he spoke to were keen to invest in more machinery but lacked the staff to operate them. “This is almost every office I go to,” he says. “It is clearly a big problem within the industry and there is a danger that some of the big companies who are winning big contracts may start to pay more and drain the industry of this labour even further. However, I do believe that in the medium term the future for the industry is positive and eventually this labour gap will be filled by apprentices that were brought on after the recession and will become qualified for these skills – so it should level itself out.”
However, despite these industry-wide challenges the supplier of new and used plant equipment and machinery has still had a successful year as it continues to develop its product offering and market share. In October the company brought on board experienced salesman, Jamie McGlinn, to focus on the crushing and screening side of the business, where it sees a lot of potential opportunities with its Maximus Crushers and Screeners franchise. “This has been a key part of our expansion and development plans and since taking this new salesman on we are starting to see some good results now,” highlights Ian. “Overall we have had a really good year on the heavy side of things with larger excavators in excess of 30 tonnes subject to strong demand. Much of this demand is coming from the large quarrying projects as more aggregates are being taken out and so on, so our foothold in this industry has really made progress. We have also had a lot of success with our new Wacker Neuson cabbed site dumper, which provides better comfort, health and safety and weather protection, and is proving popular to site operators in the UK.”
With house building and infrastructure projects also taking off in the UK, the company has seen strong demand for its eight to 14 tonne products. However, growth in the 20 tonne sector, which had previously shown the strongest levels of demand, has dropped off according to Ian who again notes that this appears to be an industry-wide problem. It was also mentioned in the last feature that the forestry industry would be a particular point of focus for the business as it moves forward. Whilst its product range is well-suited to this market with a number of sales under its belt, many of Taylor and Braithwaite’s customers are anticipating grants that could contribute up to 40 per cent of the cost of buying the machinery and therefore the firm is seeing a hold up in sales. “Again the demand is there and we know many of our customers are keen to invest but understandably they are sitting on their hands at the moment having applied for the grants,” Ian notes. “However, I am also confident that opportunities will start to materialise here in the near future.”
With a slower market to contend with, Taylor and Braithwaite’s position within it remains strong and the company has been proactive in using this time wisely to consolidate its position in the market and expand its resources. “We have just had plans approved for a new workshop facility so this construction should be getting started on over the coming months,” explains Ian. “The site as it is at present is okay but the guys working here could do with a better workshop and its important that we provide good working conditions for them and keep moving forward as a company. We have also been employing new sales staff and marketing staff to help promote the company further. As well as this the other director, Paul Taylor, has taken on the role of Workshop Manager, which is a major part of our customer service offering and is an incredibly challenging job dealing with many of our customers’ problems. I think him taking on this position demonstrates our commitment to our customers and they seem to appreciate that.”
Ian is confident that 2016 will be a stronger year and hopes to see 10 per cent growth. “Essentially, we will be focusing on carrying on with what we have been doing,” he says. “Focusing on excavator sales will always be at our core and expanding this to serve our customers with a more wide-spread portfolio is important to us. A few people have been knocking on our doors with products like telehandlers and forestry chippers, so looking into new routes like this could uncover some potential opportunities. Next year will also be exciting for our Hyundai offering, with its new HX series launching. These are new wheel loaders and they are once again proving how well Hyundai are progressing in terms of technology, with lots of new safety features, a bigger cab and other features like that. One of our long-standing customers, Thompsons Plant Hire in Maryport, will be taking the first delivery of this series from us for a 52-tonne HX520L– this will actually be the first of its type in the UK.” The company will also be taking its 500th Hyundai early next year, marking a significant milestone for the strong working relationship it shares with the manufacturer.
It is clear that Taylor and Braithwaite has faced a tough year in 2015 with many outside pressures posing challenges to Ian and his team. However, the company has established for itself a strong reputation in the market for serving its customers with excellent customer service and quality products. Continuing to do so will be a key part to maintaining the success it has enjoyed for so many years as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017. Prospects for 2016 look positive as well with a market that is growing busier every month and customers who are willing to invest in resources. By committing to serving this growing market with an ever expanding but consistently focused product range, Taylor and Braithwaite’s future looks set to secure further success over the coming years.
Taylor and Braithwaite
Services: Services: Suppliers of new and used plant and machinery