Blackheath Products has evolved considerably since it was established 50 years ago. From humble beginnings, which saw the company’s founder, Ian Foster, selling kitchen sinks out of a small holding in the Midlands, to establishing a successful supplies company with an impressive £25m annual turnover – it is a British success story.
Now with a 100,000 sq ft warehouse in Halesowen, Blackheath distributes kitchen and bathroom products, decorative laminate and composite boards nationwide. Keen to diversify its offer still further, the company has recently purchased its second Striebig Compact vertical panel saw from leading woodworking machinery distributor, TM Machinery.
“As a company, we can never rest on our laurels and as such, we can’t afford to be let down by unreliable machinery,” begins Adrian Wild, Logistics Manager at Blackheath Products. “Some of our machines have been on our floor for decades, but the moment they cannot be relied upon to offer a high quality finish and accurate cut is the time we invest in new machinery.”
“TM Machinery are experts in their field. What they don’t know about vertical panel saws isn’t worth knowing,” explains Adrian. “When it came to replacing one of our older saws, we knew what we wanted the new machine to achieve but we didn’t know what kind of model we needed to make this happen. TM converted our ideas into something tangible and worked with us to create a solution that fit the business. They gave us options and translated everything into plain English, allowing us to fully understand the process. It was this interaction that cemented the purchase of our first Striebig Compact in 2013.”
Four years on, the kitchen products and surface supplier has installed its second Compact saw through TM Machinery. “The decision to install a second Compact vertical panel saw was an easy one,” admits Adrian. “In recent years, the company has changed. We no longer only supply kitchen products and worktops to the trade. We’re now working with large kitchen manufacturers, architects, specifiers and commercial contractors to supply decorative sheets and compact board on a big scale. Most recently we’ve worked with KFC, McDonalds, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and the Ministry of Defence. It’s an area that we’re keen to grow in the coming years.”
Working in new markets has encouraged further investment in Blackheath Products’ machinery. Working on large projects has promoted the need for a saw that not only offers unparalleled accuracy, reliability and longevity but also the ability to work with large panels up to 4.3m long and cut a wide range of surface materials within a 1/10mm accuracy. “Purchasing a second Compact seemed like the only choice. We knew the machine would be more than capable of completing the work quickly and efficiently and we have great confidence in the Striebig brand.”
Along with the installation, TM Machinery also trained the team on the saw – a service that Adrian admits was a big selling point when working with the Striebig distributor. “We are extremely Health and Safety conscious. In this day and age, you can’t afford not to be. That’s why we chose TM Machinery to train the entire warehouse team on the Striebig.
In large companies such as this, we appreciate a lot of our competitors would only train a handful of workers on the machine because of the time and cost associated with it. However, we wanted to be able to utilise the machine to the best of our ability and have a skilled workforce. It took two engineers four days to complete but now over 20 warehouse operatives are certified to use the saws.”
The results spoke for themselves, with Blackheath Products seeing a return on investment almost immediately. “Not only are the Striebigs working on multiple projects at one time, we are now advertising a cutting service. Offering special cuts has created a new revenue source for us, and we couldn’t have done it without our Striebig saws. Our cut-to-size service is attracting new customers and we’ve seen regular customers returning more frequently to take advantage of this. At peak times, we can perform over 100 cuts a day on each machine and we know each cut will help us win business today, tomorrow and in years to come.”
Thanks to this new revenue source created by the two Striebig saws, increased productivity and entry into new markets, Blackheath Products is looking to increase its 100,000 sq ft premises by a further 8500 sq ft Adrian adds, “The Striebig’s ability to cut a wide range of materials both vertically and horizontally has influenced the company going forward. With high quality machinery, a long standing partnership with TM Machinery and a dedicated workforce behind us, we are now looking to be not only a nationwide stockist and distributor but also a manufacturer. Our Striebig saws will play a vital role in this as the company continues to push ahead.”
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