There’s an old saying that a ‘picture paints a thousand words’, yet few people would ever associate it with the galvanizing sector.
S]/dropcap]ophie Williams, Finance Director at Corbetts the Galvanizers, has a different take on things. When products roll out of the firm’s vast facility in the heart of Shropshire, the stunning finish is something that usually tells her that the processes, the staff and the investment the management team has signed-off is working.
Since the business was bought by Canadian investment house Ardenton Capital in 2017, it has been on a steep upward growth curve, putting on over £1.2m in sales and enjoying new success in construction and the automotive sector.
This has been achieved despite the uncertainty of Brexit and fluctuating commodity prices, not to mention challenges associated with skills and securing the right staff to cope with expansion.
Rollercoaster ride becomes platform to perform
“It has certainty been a rollercoaster 12 months,” explained Sophie, who was appointed to the board at just 28 yearsold, making her one of the youngest female directors in the sector.
“A lot of the work we undertook following the acquisition has given us the platform to work through the economic issues and press on with our desire to reinforce our position as one of the UK’s leading hot dip galvanizers.”
She continued: “In fact, when we actually look at the figures we can see that we actually achieved our best ever year for new sales and a lot of this was down to our repositioning, a new brand and successfully passing our ISO 9001 accreditation.
“Our philosophy is focused on hasslefree service, stunning steel and customer service, as opposed to the traditional ‘stack it high, sell it cheap’ mentality often seen in the sector.”
A ‘right first time’ commitment has resonated with Corbett’s the Galvanizer’s client base and helped it convert pipeline business into actual sales, as it looks to head towards £12m of annual sales. 105 people are now employed at its Telford manufacturing base and all of these staff are now part of a new training and rigorous development programme that is designed to blend new starts immediately into the team and allow existing individuals to upskill.
This has been achieved through the creation of an Operational Support Team, which is in charge of the workplace environment, employee incentive scheme and identifying opportunities for people to grow and positively influence the business.
2020 marks 160 years of Corbetts the Galvanizers supplying world class hot dip galvanizing to thousands of customers across the UK and Europe.
The company, which was originally founded by Samuel Corbett, opened its Wellington factory in 1860 and Shropshire has remained its home ever since.
However, today’s site on Halesfield, its base since 1999, will be barely recognisable to those that started out all those years ago, with a new water recovery system in place, state-of-the-art kettles installed and a 13-strong fleet of vehicles in the yard acting as the distribution nerve centre for serving its customer base.
Over £300,000 has been put aside for its anniversary year to replace flux and acid tanks that will free up capacity and further speed up the galvanizing process. “We like to think ‘our past, protects your future’ and this relates to the years of experience we have built in understanding our clients and what makes them tick,” continued Sophie.
The FD, who was recently named in The Manufacturer Top 100, points to the many end uses that Corbetts the Galvanizers contribute to, most of which the public would never realise. “Our galvanizing can be seen on street furniture, to keep vital IT infrastructure safe and on articulated lorry trailers carrying goods all over the UK. We even have a big say on the chassis that thousands of static caravans sit on. It’s all about delivering the performance, yet still making sure they look great.”
Sophie concluded: “2020 will be a real celebration of our history, but also a marker in the sand for the next 160 years, starting with a 7% increase in volumes. If we achieve this, revenue should be up by £1m – now that’s a good birthday present.”