Mila was named Component Supplier of the Year at the November G-Awards for the third time in seven years. Managing Director Richard Gyde explained some of the secrets behind the company’s ongoing success.
We were the only hardware company to win at the G-17s and in fact we were the only hardware company to even make the shortlists. Because the awards only recognise performance over the previous year, that says a lot, I think, about how well we outperformed the market in 2016/17.
Many of our competitors appeared to batten down the hatches and focused on cutting costs in order to survive the intense price pressure triggered by the post Brexit currency devaluation and the rapid increase in commodity prices. Mila, by contrast, continued to invest in new quality and service initiatives throughout the year which helped us to delivered real increases in sales.
Obviously, the Component Supplier of the Year award isn’t just about sales though – in fact it’s judged primarily on how much of a difference you have made to your customers.
For Mila, our efforts last year were centred around three key areas – product quality, guarantees and customer service, all with the aim of delivering continuous improvement.
On product quality, we spent a great deal of time and money addressing what is a fundamentally important issue in the hardware sector – corrosion of chrome plated zinc die cast hardware. This makes up a large proportion of the hardware installed in the UK but it is notoriously vulnerable to corrosion and, in particular, pitting.
We recognised that part of the issue was that the 480 hour salt spray test routinely used in the UK for this type of hardware no longer effectively replicates installed conditions. So, we commissioned independent chemical analysis of the castings and finishes used on many of these products and worked with specialist testing laboratories overseas to carry out more appropriate testing.
As a result, we are putting in place an entirely new process for our chrome plated products in 2018 which addresses this very specific issue and potentially gives our customers a huge competitive advantage.
Of course, in the hardware sector any type of remedial work can have a very serious impact on margins, not just for installers but for fabricators too. That’s why another key aspect of our award winning G-17 entry was the launch of our Smart Hardware, Simple Guarantees scheme.
We relaunched our entire guarantees package with simplified terms and instantly identifiable icons on every product which show whether the product or finish has a 5,10, 20 or even 25 year guarantee. As a result, it is now easier than ever for our customers to understand our offering and make sure that they choose the right product for every application.
We believe that Mila’s guarantees are now the simplest and most comprehensive in the industry – something we can only deliver because of the consistently outstanding quality of our products across our good, better and best ranges.
The third key aspect of our winning entry might seem more mundane but is actually fundamental to how we are able to deliver ongoing improvements on our already outstanding service
We rolled out a new NAV ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) tool across the business to help us communicate better between departments and with customers. And, alongside that we introduced new demand planning software which has helped us to deliver our best ever inventory control system. This is helping us to drill down further into our On Time In Full delivery performance and identify the next areas for improvement.
Winning a G-Award is always a tremendous boost for everyone involved and being named Component Supplier of the Year in particular means a lot to me personally and to everyone at Mila. We’ve got some really ambitious plans for 2018 across all of our product ranges, designed to ensure that Mila’s legendary quality and service is within reach of every fabricator.
Further details are available at: www.mila.co.uk