WEST SYSTEM: All about: Marine & Industrial
‘Quality Products, Exceptional Service’. It’s the motto that has helped Marine & Industrial in Norfolk become one of the leading distributors of adhesives and sealants to the UK marine industry. We speak to Managing Director Robin Mace about the origins of this family-run business.
My parents, Richard and Penny Mace, started the business in 1986 from nothing. In the early 1980s, the family construction company my father had part inherited was sold. One of the products they supplied to the construction industry was a one-part waterproof sealant and he kept hold of a couple of boxes of stock. It occurred to my parents that it could be the perfect product for boatbuilders, so they looked through the Yellow Pages one evening and saw that no one else locally was selling it.
Sailing was a hobby of my father’s. He’d commissioned the build of a Norfolk Broads yacht named ‘Cirrus’, which was built with the help of Landamores Yacht Builders of Wroxham, Norfolk. My father spoke to Landamores and demonstrated the superior quality and efficiency of this sealant compared to the two-part polysulphide sealants they were using. That was his first sale and Marine & Industrial Sealants (as it was originally known) was born.
Growing the business
My father had a customer account with Wessex Resins and Adhesives – the hull of his boat was a cold-moulded construction so a lot of WEST SYSTEM® epoxy was used. My father approached Roy Oliver about distributing WEST SYSTEM products but they already had a distributor in the area so he was told no. Several weeks later he went back and asked about distributing to the caravan market. This time the answer was yes. Admittedly, there weren’t too many sales to the caravan market but my father was generating new leads and bringing in new business, so Roy was happy!
It was a genuine cottage industry. We lived in a thatched-roofed cottage and the playroom was turned into an office. We had boxes in the kitchen and we converted a load of chicken sheds into more storage space. In between looking after me, my mother would take orders and package them, using a garden wheelbarrow to shift the goods from the shed. My father would drive around in a little Peugeot 205 making deliveries and meeting customers.
The business grew and my parents hired their first employee, Michael Morton-Lee, who had approached them about becoming a field-based salesperson and going national. It was a big step to employ someone else but Michael brought in a lot of new business in the Hampshire area and things really took off. Our operation expanded to 11 garden sheds before moving into our current headquarters in Worstead in 2001. Now we’re set to open our second office, down in Southampton, in early 2017.
The secret to success
Behind everything we do lies exceptional customer service. Having a visible presence with our customers and offering first-rate support is paramount to our success. Our field-based sales team are very knowledgeable and we like to consult our customers on the best products for the job, rather than simply try to flog them stuff.
That’s why quality is so important. Lots of cheaply manufactured products regularly come to market but they don’t last. It’s the best-quality, most reputable brands, like WEST SYSTEM and PRO-SET products, that stand the test of time.
For us, it’s not just the quality of the products, it’s also about the exceptional quality of their tech support – guys like David Johnson. David’s knowledge is second to none – not just of the products but knowledge also of the industry and standards, as well as techniques and working methods. The great thing about David is that, because of his vast experience in boatbuilding, he has a detailed understanding of timber and modern composites construction. That advice is invaluable, both to us and our customers.
Quality products, exceptional service. It’s the way we like to do business.
Our thanks to Robin Mace. To learn more about Marine and Industrial you can visit their website www.marineindustrial.co.uk.
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