When the Flamstead Group, owners of HL Plastics, purchased Wegoma GB back in 2014, many industry eyebrows were raised. How would a well-established uPVC systems house such as Liniar integrate well with a machinery company?
Fast forward three years – with a name change to Avantek Machinery – and the success of the partnership becomes more obvious with each passing day. The 2017 FIT Show saw Liniar and Avantek share a stand for the first time, bringing both brands together and highlighting the relationship to any visitors who’d previously missed it. Customer feedback has been outstanding and both companies are flying high.
Avantek Sales Director Nigel Bishop explains the planning and momentum that has led to this point, and the benefits that customers of both brands are seeing as a result of the combined resources available to the team.
“I’ve worked in the window industry for most of my career, and even I was a little sceptical about how a systems company and a machinery company would have the synergies required to make it work. But once I met Roger Hartshorn and heard his plans for the two businesses, I saw immediately the benefits this could bring, not only to both companies, but for customers too.
“Sharing head office functions at Group level means we don’t have to worry about financial systems, invoicing or the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the business – we can focus on adding real value to customers. It also means we can take advantage of the in-house design and marketing resources available to us, which maximises our exposure to the industry and our customer base.
“We’ve spent the last couple of years quietly going around building the business and letting our service speak for itself – but the 2017 FIT Show was really where we came out and started to shout about the relationship between Liniar and Avantek.
“Development of new machinery takes a huge amount of investment, which is prohibitive for many other machinery companies in the UK. The Flamstead Group and its ultimate owners, Quanex Building Products, are fully behind our investment programme, just as they continue to invest in the Liniar product range.
“This is evidenced by the launch of Avantek’s own Supercut cutting and machining centre, as well as bringing to market a brand new multi-head welder and a compact quad welder that only takes up half the floor space of a standard welder.
“It also means we can invest heavily in stock – not just of spares, which is obviously a benefit to customers – but also in machinery itself. We can in many cases supply a machine the very next week – when a customer wants it – instead of making them wait the industry-standard 16 weeks. Customers can’t believe it when I tell them when they can start using their new machine and becoming more productive as a result!”
Combined financial strength
“The beauty of the partnership from a fabricator’s point of view is that the best finance deals can be arranged when a Liniar fabricator buys machinery from Avantek. This also works the other way around, with several fabricators recently switching to Liniar profiles in order to benefit from the savings they can make. Our combined industry contacts also mean that introductions can be made more easily and customers are telling us that’s a real breath of fresh air.”
In addition to its investment in new product development, Avantek Machinery is able to invest in its people. The company has a fully employed staff, including field engineers to cover the whole of the UK. Nigel explains:
“When a machine breaks down, the last thing a fabricator wants is for a third party contractor to turn up. He may not know the machine well enough, and usually isn’t accountable to the machinery company, so precious time can be wasted. All of our engineers are fully trained in-house and have a real customer focus, so any downtime is minimised.”
A benefit which won’t be realised until later in the year is the official opening of Liniar House, the 178,000 ft² building that will not only house the new Liniar showroom, but also a huge machinery showroom for Avantek.
“We’re extremely excited about the new showroom,” comments Nigel. “We also believe it’s unique in that we’ll be able to show off a fully operational Supercut. We don’t think there’s anywhere else that a cutting and machining centre can be seen in action before a customer decides to purchase.
“And not just the Supercut – every machine in the showroom is operational. So whenever a Liniar customer visits Liniar House, they’ll also be able to see fully working machinery from the whole catalogue, including URBAN and Wegoma machines.
“The showroom also takes away the potential awkwardness of taking customers to other fabricators’ premises to see machinery in a working environment. There’s a real beauty in showing customers everything together in one place, without them having to worry about visiting their competitors.”
An effective partnership can be priceless. Whether it’s changing the course of modern music like Lennon and McCartney or rewriting the rules of fashion like Dolce & Gabbana; working in unison with someone who shares the same principles and philosophies can only lead to success.