Competing with the Chinese

Windridge Coatings provides powder coating to the surface of metal. The coating is very robust but is also often used where there is a need for an architectural statement. Windridge Coatings is an established business. The owner is particularly good at innovating to make the process better and adapting the plant, so it can be used to apply the coating if there was an unusual request from the market.

In 2016 they were asked by a company to remove the coating and re-coat the metal panels which are erected temporarily around the edge of buildings during their construction, to protect the workers from falling from height. The panels are known as edge protection. The request came out of the blue but given the quantity of the work, the owner of Windridge coatings thought that there must be a market to do more for other businesses.

His initial thought was to contact bigger companies of the same type to see if they required the service. After numerous calls which yielded no response, Peter Searle from Business Doctors, Maidstone was contacted and asked to help.

He looked at the construction industry structure, which is very fragmented and determined that the companies using the panels were in fact tier 2 or 3 in the supply chain and did not necessarily own the panels. The panels could be hired and therefore who would be interested in the re-coating service needed to be investigated further. The cost of new panels compared to the recoating service was looked at and it did not appear that there was a cost benefit, given the panels could be procured cheaply from China.

He then looked at the reasons behind the situations in which the panels were used. Companies developing residential luxury high rise blocks have strong branding on their building sites. The sales teams demand corporate colours be used and the sites look pristine from the outset.  What became apparent was that the correct corporately coloured panels might not be available for the initial stages of a project, due to the long lead in time from China. Windridge Coatings could provide sufficient panels until the cheaper units arrived from China. The hire companies and supply chain could charge a premium for corporately branded panels if they were required before they could be obtained from China. This then made the pricing which Windridge Coating required for coating the panels in the UK viable.

When promoting the service to potential clients, the message was now defined. The differentiating benefit was the speed with which the corporately coloured panels were available, and the cost benefit then made to the alternatives, which were much more expensive. Armed with this information the website information and the marketing conversations with providers and users of the panels is being revised by Windridge Coatings and the actual size of this premium market able to be established.

November 2017