2019 will see Kernow Fixings enjoying its 30th anniversary, but in the meantime the St Austell-based company could have even more reason to celebrate after being shortlisted at the London Construction & Design Awards within the Supplier of the Year category. Construction Industry News recently caught up with Robin Pallister, National Sales Executive, to see what the recognition means to the business and to discover the secret behind its longevity.
“It is exciting to be considered as a finalist, particularly as this is the first time we’ve ever put ourselves forward for such an award,” explains Mr Pallister. “We identified the opportunity because a significant amount of our work is based in London, so we decided to give it a shot. Having since been nominated for the award we’re absolutely delighted and very excited to have been selected as a finalist for this award. The fact that we have been shortlisted in the first place is very encouraging for us, particularly as we’re not based in London. This demonstrates that location is much less important these days, as long as you’re able to deliver the level of service that your customers require.”
What’s all the more pleasing for Kernow Fixings is that it was shortlisted within the Supplier of the Year category, as the company has been customer focused from the very start. “We’ve always looked to build relationships with our customers so we know exactly what they need from us,” adds Mr Pallister. “We’ve then used this feedback to tailor our service in-line with their requirements. It’s all about going the extra mile and exceeding expectations so that our customers keep coming back, generating high levels of repeat business in the process.”
“It is exciting to be considered as a finalist, particularly as this is the first time we’ve ever put ourselves forward for such an award. We identified the opportunity because a significant amount of our work is based in London, so we decided to give it a shot. Having since been nominated for the award we’re absolutely delighted and very excited to have been selected as a finalist for this award.”
Robin Pallister, National Sales Executive
Kernow Fixings’ customer-orientated approach stems partly from the fact that it remains very much a family business, with strong traditional values at its heart. “The director that set up the company in 1989 used to be a fisherman before deciding to create a fixings business operating out of his garden shed,” says Mr Pallister. “We started life selling screws and plugs to joinery contractors before progressing onto construction companies. Over the years we’ve expanded further to the extent that our target market now concentrates on mechanical and electrical contractors across the UK.
“Although we’ve developed our customer base over the years, what has remained constant is our emphasis on customer service. This is based on the strong family values within the business and our commitment to retaining a high level of personal interaction with the customer. As a consequence, our customers get to know and trust our staff, some of whom have been with us over 20 years. On top of this, we are continually fine-tuning our offering and our delivery service to provide exactly what our customers want, when and where they want it. It’s all about Kernow becoming an integral part of their business.”
A growing workforce of over 30 people enables Kernow Fixings to provide the calibre of service that it offers and thanks to the robustness of its infrastructure, the company is now keen to capitalise further on the opportunities that are currently available. “Within London there continues to be a considerable amount of construction work taking place and I don’t envisage that this will change in the foreseeable future with the volume of proposals that are coming through on a daily basis. We’re keen to make the most of this potential, while at the same time we’re also open to developing in other parts of the country too, as we’re seeing growing opportunities across the country. We’ve got a very strong proposition and we’re very confident in growing our business throughout the UK.
“What’s more, as we’ve expanded we’ve always ensured that we’ve developed our supply chain accordingly and our internal team. For instance, we’ve recently expanded our procurement team to concentrate more on our core products and our core suppliers to develop relationships further, while at the same time negotiating with new suppliers to further strengthen our offering for customers. We have fantastic relationships with our suppliers including Pemsa, Sikla and Walraven and C-Tec, to name a few, which is absolutely crucial when it comes to looking after our own clients.”
These close links with its supply base has been all the more important given the tightening margins that are being seen across the construction industry generally. “It is a challenge but where possible we try to avoid selling on price,” says Mr Pallister. “At the end of the day anyone can provide a cheap product, whereas we want to still be here for another 30 years, which means we’re focused on delivering added value solutions to the customer that will save them time and labour on-site, while also being competitive on price. It is a challenge but again our proactive approach means we’re committed to making the necessary adjustments needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business and lifetime relationships with customers.
“Looking ahead, our focus is on being the first port of call for every M&E contractor in the UK, not just for fixings but for a wide range of different products and services. We’re well aware of the challenges ahead, but we believe we’ve got the right people and the right infrastructure to achieve our objectives, particularly with the experience we have within the company. It’s now all about getting our name out there.”
With the award recognition it is receiving and the 30th anniversary to look forward to next year, Kernow Fixings certainly looks like it’s on the right track and awareness of what it can offer will surely only increase in the months ahead.