Victorian philosopher Thomas Carlyle referred to economics as ‘the dismal science’. It’s a moniker that has haunted this particular field of study for well over a century and often, not without good reason. The sheer complexity and interconnectivity of the global economy means that during a crash or recession, every major industry feels the effects of each economic decision made by governments and financial institutions. This is particularly true of the British steel industry who, since the financial crash of 2008, have experienced a series of serious setbacks that continue to depress the industry.
What is growth? At first, it seems like a fairly simple question to answer for most businesses. Increased revenue streams, better profit margins, greater efficiency and innovation, as well as physical size are all fairly standard measures of how successfully a business is growing. However, this question becomes infinitely more complex when other factors are added into the equation: Is all business growth stable and sustainable? How does our growth as a business compare to our competitors? How is our growth as a business affected by macroeconomic factors?
In 1990, the UK was about to enter a decade that would transform domestic industry and business. Margaret Thatcher left office in November, the end of a premiership in which huge swathes of Britain’s manufacturing industry, from cars to household goods, had been privatised and moved offshore. Bott was only a small company at this point, but the aim of producing workplace storage of exceptional quality, a product that was ‘built to last’, would become a core ideal in the growth and development of the business over the next 25 years.
During this period, developing a successful business that relied on products engineered and manufactured in the UK was far from a straightforward task. There was little faith in British industry and further blows to the economy, particularly the forced withdrawal of the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) on what came to be known as Black Wednesday, left the economy in a particularly precarious state.
The Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape, South Africa is a bone dry, desert bowl 200km north of the nearest airport. During the summer months, temperatures during the day can reach 45° Celsius and dust storms are a common occurrence. It’s in this scorching heat, carved out between the dunes, that Bloodhound have cleared the track upon which they intend to test their supersonic car and in doing so, break the land-speed record.
It’s hard to imagine a tougher environment in which to operate and maintain a precision engineered, finely balanced machine like the BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car. To do so successfully, The BLOODHOUND Project asked Bott to provide workshop kit capable of withstanding the same extreme climate and conditions as their car, providing adequate protection and storage for the all the tools, spare parts and equipment they need to complete their challenge. In short, they need Bott’s products to be unquestionably built to last.
In these blogs, we often talk about Built to Last as a philosophy, an engineering achievement, or even a manufacturing process. But, behind each of these examples are dedicated, brilliant teams of people bringing the principles of Built to Last to life in every aspect of the company through hard work, dedication and innovation.
As a result, we believe that our company can only be as great as the people it employs. Just as we pride ourselves on our products and services being of outstanding quality, reliable and built for longevity, we aim to build relationships with our employees on the same principles. We’ve found that one of the key building blocks in creating working relationships that are ‘Built to Last’ is cultivating a strong apprenticeship programme that fosters loyalty, ambition and talent in those who sign up.
Innovation is a much hyped word, you don’t need to read far in the business press or media to be exhorted to innovate; but what actually is innovation? And how do you do it well? To quote Management writer, Peter Drucker:
“Innovation is the specific tool of entrepreneurs, the means by which they exploit change as an opportunity for a different business or service. It is capable of being presented as a discipline, capable of being learned, capable of being practiced.” (Drucker and Drucker, 2007)
This quote argues that as the wider environment changes, organisations need to change their offer to match customer requirements, therefore firms need to develop capabilities to innovate and manage these changes.
For us at Bott, our challenge is to act in an entrepreneurial way, exploiting change to create solutions which satisfy the needs of our customers. As argued in the quote, the actions involved in doing this can be learnt as a discipline and process. The scope of this subject is huge but in this blog we’ll just touch on some of the principles which drive our innovation strategy and give some useful examples of innovation.
To quote an old and much repeated phrase, many things in life, when subjected to close scrutiny turn out to be ‘all style and no substance’. At Bott we prefer to let our product speak for us, producing durable, functional storage solutions, expertly manufactured to repeatable standards in state of the art facilities.
Exceptional and consistent product quality is a keystone of our Built to Last ethos. Bott storage solutions are regularly assembled to order. This requires high flexibility in the manufacturing process, whilst ensuring that from raw material to installation, we maintain optimum efficiency and responsiveness.
No matter how clever the marketing, how ambitious the sales strategy, a company is only as good as the product it produces. If the manufacturing methods and equipment employed do not provide a product of genuine value and durability, the business cannot hope to survive in the long term.
This is why Bott and the Built to Last philosophy is wholeheartedly founded upon the high quality of the products we produce, a process that begins on the factory floor with our exacting manufacturing standards. As part of this, we are proud to announce the arrival of a brand new piece of equipment at our Bude facility that will help us to continue to create, with greater efficiency and flexibility, a product that embodies the Built to Last ideals.