Pickerings gets a big lift from company makeover

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A FIFTH generation family business has re-structured and re-branded as part of its plans for growth.

Lift manufacturer Pickerings Lifts, a privately-owned business with a base in Tingley, has had a presence in West Yorkshire for more than three decades. It employs more than 40 people locally, while its head count is around 350 nationally.

Its turnover for 2011 is forecast to be at about £25m, and the company plans to double that within five to ten years, sales and marketing director Kirk Lawson told the Yorkshire Post.

Mr Lawson said: “We started out in lifts and now we’ve broken out into different markets. Now, we are doing a lot of regeneration of lifts and also do escalators and loading systems.”

He said the loading systems side of the business is currently its “biggest growth area”.

A re-branding process has seen the company’s name change from Pickering to Pickerings Lifts, and the firm now has new literature, website, and a new logo. It also appointed public relations agency Golley Slater to heighten its profile regionally and nationally.

Mr Lawson said: “We have always been very service driven. We were living off our reputation.” But the company said it has moved away from an operationally-led structure to one that is more market-focused.

Pickerings Lifts now has a new customer offering which comprises the following business streams: lift products, access products, UK manufactured specialist lifts, lift maintenance and repair, mobility maintenance and repair, loading systems, escalators and lift regeneration.

The idea is for these new specialisms to enable Pickerings Lifts to penetrate specific target markets effectively and offer a ‘one-stop-shop’ to its customer base.

John Fothergill bought the company and became managing director in 1891 and, 120 years later, his great, great grandson Donald Fothergill is the chairman – having handed the role of managing director to long-term Pickerings Lifts director, Ian Bowers.

Previously maintenance services group director, Mr Bowers has worked for Pickerings Lifts for 12 years and is succeeded by Lynn Humble who takes on the newly formed role of customer service director, moving on from her position as group service manager.

Rob Middleton retains his position as group finance director which he has held since 2007 and the four-strong team of directors under Mr Fothergill has been completed with the appointment of Mr Lawson as sales and marketing director.

Mr Lawson said: “We’ve bucked the trend in the industry. Some of the larger multinationals have bought out smaller companies. There has been a lot of growth through acquisitions.

“But we have grown organically due to good service delivery and retention.”

The company’s turnover was £22,603,662 in 2006, with pre-tax profits of £4,262,476, growing to £24,468,000 and £6,139,888 respectively in 2008. In 2010, its turnover was £20,179,000, and its pre-tax profit was £5,382,071.

Mr Lawson added: “We are one of the only lift manufacturers in the UK, if not the only one in the UK. That is our unique selling point (USP). We are close to our customers. Because we are independent we don’t have to buy from certain people. We are not tied down on how we meet a specification.”

He added customers can come and view their lift being manufactured at any stage because it is being made in the UK.

But Mr Lawson said despite the difficult economic climate, Pickerings Lifts will not compromise on the amount of time spent or quality of the service, which means it comes up against competitive pricing.

He said: “Although we are competitive, we won’t sell a contract at a loss. We make sure there are enough hours to do the job. That is a hard ask.

“We stand by our morals and maintain the level of service while others are dropping that level of service.”

Mr Bowers said that in creating “a unified management structure with more streamlined processes to support our new market-focused customer offering”, customers can be certain to receive “even greater flexibility and efficiency of service”.

He added: “In addition, despite operating in a competitive marketplace, Pickerings Lifts’ USPs – our technical capabilities, outstanding customer service and British manufacturing heritage – will continue to provide us with an excellent platform for growth.”