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Company Profile; A whiter shade of Powrmatic

Kieron Borgeat, commercial manager at Powrmatic, explains how the company has been moving forward and why a change from green to white for its units is far more significant than just a new colour. Paul Braithwaite visits the company to watch the first white units to go through the painting process
Company Profile; A whiter shade of Powrmatic
LOOK out for the new white livery which has just started to appear on Powrmatic heating and ventilation units. It is a strong signal of a company which knows where it is going.

Powrmatic has been trading successfully for more than 40 years and is recognised as a leader in the warm air market.

The company is part of the Stamm International Corporation, a New York company which trades mainly in the US and Canada, with Powrmatic supplying customers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The company has a strong track record with customers including British Aerospace, Honda, Tesco and Toyota and the company's products have been proven in some of the world's most prestigious and demanding applications.

The warm air market has been hit hard in the past few years with escalating energy costs and increasingly stringent building and environmental regulations.

This has meant many of Powrmatic's customers have changed the way they do business, in order to remain competitive. This, in turn, has caused Powrmatic, like many others, to look at new strategies to help it best serve the new demands its industry faces.

Powrmatic clearly saw the effect of change from the coal face and its change-management programme has been underway since 2002.
The company completed the purchase of flue manufacturer Selkirk's assets from the receiver in 2003. Powrmatic's own flue division was integrated in the Selkirk business and set up as a separate wholly-owned entity, with one manufacturing facility in Barnstaple, North Devon.

'The company dropped the Selkirk name, re-branded as SFL and raised its profile. It is a quality, top-of-the-range brand with a portfolio of products that support it. As a result SFL has a strong brand in the marketplace' says Kieron Borgeat, commercial manager at Powrmatic.

Powrmatic was then restructured around two product groups, heating and ventilation, and a new brand identity developed to show the changes.

Its house colour was updated from the green units that are a standard feature in most commercial and industrial units to white. The new livery has been in market since March and I was able to see the first of the new coloured units coming off the powder coating machine when I visited the site in Illminster, Somerset.

In 2006, Gerry Brame was appointed as managing director, joining Powrmatic from West Pharmaceuticals.

His remit was to take the market leader forward, to face the fresh challenges of the industry and to protect its market position.
Powrmatic rationalised its three factories in Ilminster into one, with its obvious efficiency savings. Where travel between the sites for its workers had been the norm, the changes have already achieved a massive efficiency saving, as well as boosting communication between production lines.

Specifically, this has enabled the cabinet range to be rationalised on the CP model and part numbers to be reduced from around 40,000 to a mere 5,000.

Kieron took up the post as commercial manager for Powrmatic and SFL in January this year, with a remit to manage the continued change-management programme.

'We are doing a lot of work in our CAD design facility, dropping some lines, bringing others up to date, stripping out costs, making products easier to manufacture and leading on service.' says Kieron.

Employing Japanese 'Kaizan' methods, a cycle of continual improvement is core to the way the factory works.

Engineers are empowered and involved in the process, analysing their own work flow, production and work areas, as they are experts in their part of the process.

This has even involved detailed analysis of how many times an engineer walks around a unit during its production. This has had dramatic results, freeing up space in the factory, as well as inventory, cutting lead times and driving up quality assurance levels.

The NV unit, designed in conjunction with specifiers, installers and users, offers efficient and cost effective heating and cooling for industrial and commercial properties. Recent enhancements to the quality of the product ensure it continues to offer value in the market.

Route to market for all products is through contractors, specialist distributors and national wholesalers.

Experienced sales engineers provide expert advice on all aspects of design and application, with after sales service and spares availability guaranteed by a network of regional service engineers and spares stockists, strategically located throughout the UK.

The first part of the improvement process was about going out, meeting and talking to customers. In this way, service has been another area that has been revitalised as it has been important for Powrmatic to understand the commercial pressures its customers face, in order to add value to their businesses.

'The range has many specifications that can be put to wider use and we are showing customers how they can make much more of the portfolio of Powrmatic and SFL products.' says Kieron.

Powrmatic's sales engineers have been key to this process, out in the field receiving and acting upon detailed feedback from customers.

'More favourable commercial terms have a big impact on their business - and ours too. We need to know the pressures on their customers and what makes them tick so that Powrmatic is able to provide a level of service worthy of a market leader. It's about changing mind-sets, of both our sales managers and the product managers at the wholesaler or distributor' explains Kieron.

He admits there is still some way to go but Powrmatic's efforts during the past few years mean it has put in place a strong foundation for the future well-being of the company.

Kieron stresses that the staff, who all have vast experience, are critical to driving the business forward.

'Without them, we would not have got this far and with them the company has a rosy future. Continuing improvement is a philosophy that equally applies here, with Powrmatic also actively recruiting new engineers and technical staff, bringing in the new skill sets that will enable us to add value and provide for our future.'LOOK out for the new white livery which has just started to appear on Powrmatic heating and ventilation units. It is a strong signal of a company which knows where it is going.

Powrmatic has been trading successfully for more than 40 years and is recognised as a leader in the warm air market.

The company is part of the Stamm International Corporation, a New York company which trades mainly in the US and Canada, with Powrmatic supplying customers in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The company has a strong track record with customers including British Aerospace, Honda, Tesco and Toyota and the company's products have been proven in some of the world's most prestigious and demanding applications.

The warm air market has been hit hard in the past few years with escalating energy costs and increasingly stringent building and environmental regulations.

This has meant many of Powrmatic's customers have changed the way they do business, in order to remain competitive. This, in turn, has caused Powrmatic, like many others, to look at new strategies to help it best serve the new demands its industry faces.

Powrmatic clearly saw the effect of change from the coal face and its change-management programme has been underway since 2002.

The company completed the purchase of flue manufacturer Selkirk's assets from the receiver in 2003. Powrmatic's own flue division was integrated in the Selkirk business and set up as a separate wholly-owned entity, with one manufacturing facility in Barnstaple, North Devon.

'The company dropped the Selkirk name, re-branded as SFL and raised its profile. It is a quality, top-of-the-range brand with a portfolio of products that support it. As a result SFL has a strong brand in the marketplace' says Kieron Borgeat, commercial manager at Powrmatic.

Powrmatic was then restructured around two product groups, heating and ventilation, and a new brand identity developed to show the changes.

Its house colour was updated from the green units that are a standard feature in most commercial and industrial units to white. The new livery has been in market since March and I was able to see the first of the new coloured units coming off the powder coating machine when I visited the site in Illminster, Somerset.

In 2006, Gerry Brame was appointed as managing director, joining Powrmatic from West Pharmaceuticals.

His remit was to take the market leader forward, to face the fresh challenges of the industry and to protect its market position.
Powrmatic rationalised its three factories in Ilminster into one, with its obvious efficiency savings. Where travel between the sites for its workers had been the norm, the changes have already achieved a massive efficiency saving, as well as boosting communication between production lines.

Specifically, this has enabled the cabinet range to be rationalised on the CP model and part numbers to be reduced from around 40,000 to a mere 5,000.

Kieron took up the post as commercial manager for Powrmatic and SFL in January this year, with a remit to manage the continued change-management programme.

'We are doing a lot of work in our CAD design facility, dropping some lines, bringing others up to date, stripping out costs, making products easier to manufacture and leading on service.' says Kieron.
Employing Japanese 'Kaizan' methods, a cycle of continual improvement is core to the way the factory works.

Engineers are empowered and involved in the process, analysing their own work flow, production and work areas, as they are experts in their part of the process.

This has even involved detailed analysis of how many times an engineer walks around a unit during its production. This has had dramatic results, freeing up space in the factory, as well as inventory, cutting lead times and driving up quality assurance levels.

The NV unit, designed in conjunction with specifiers, installers and users, offers efficient and cost effective heating and cooling for industrial and commercial properties. Recent enhancements to the quality of the product ensure it continues to offer value in the market.

Route to market for all products is through contractors, specialist distributors and national wholesalers.

Experienced sales engineers provide expert advice on all aspects of design and application, with after sales service and spares availability guaranteed by a network of regional service engineers and spares stockists, strategically located throughout the UK.

The first part of the improvement process was about going out, meeting and talking to customers. In this way, service has been another area that has been revitalised as it has been important for Powrmatic to understand the commercial pressures its customers face, in order to add value to their businesses.

'The range has many specifications that can be put to wider use and we are showing customers how they can make much more of the portfolio of Powrmatic and SFL products.' says Kieron.

Powrmatic's sales engineers have been key to this process, out in the field receiving and acting upon detailed feedback from customers.

'More favourable commercial terms have a big impact on their business - and ours too. We need to know the pressures on their customers and what makes them tick so that Powrmatic is able to provide a level of service worthy of a market leader. It's about changing mind-sets, of both our sales managers and the product managers at the wholesaler or distributor' explains Kieron.

He admits there is still some way to go but Powrmatic's efforts during the past few years mean it has put in place a strong foundation for the future well-being of the company.

Kieron stresses that the staff, who all have vast experience, are critical to driving the business forward.

'Without them, we would not have got this far and with them the company has a rosy future. Continuing improvement is a philosophy that equally applies here, with Powrmatic also actively recruiting new engineers and technical staff, bringing in the new skill sets that will enable us to add value and provide for our future.'
1 May 2007

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