Listening for long term success: Maria Hadlow talks to Bravi UK
By Maria Hadlow22 June 2009
Andrew Fishburn and Stuart Honeywood believe in building relationships: relationships with end-users, rental companies, major contractors and equipment suppliers.
Their own relationship goes back to 1993 when Mr Fishburn worked for the UK UpRight dealer, Instant Zip Up, and Mr Honeywood was on the engineering team at UK rental company, Independent Access.
After several incarnations, last year Mr Fishburn and Mr Honeywood, together with another long term colleague, set up Bravi UK. Thus they became the only distributor outside Italy for the Braviisol manufactured Leonardo self propelled vertical mast machines.
And both have history with Braviisol: they purchased 250 Leonardos in 18 months when they were running rental company Wizard Workplace. "The Leonardo helped transform Wizard," said Mr Honeywood.
Having sold Wizard to Lavendon Access Group Mr Fishburn and Mr Honeywood have taken on a new challenge in promoting the benefits of the Leonardo range to rental companies, tool plant hire, end users
In the current market insightful sales techniques are required, although based on their history one is convinced that Mr Fishburn and Mr Honeywell would adopt the same methodologies regardless of the economic climate.
"Our accumulated skills and experience bring us closer to the client, the end user in particular," says Mr Fishburn.
As well as approaching rental companies direct, Bravi UK, talks to their customers. They find out what issues contractors face and even talk to project designers and architects. "We spend an inordinate amount of time, money and resources with potential users, "says Mr Fishburn.
"Some rental companies don't understand the end user," he adds. "They say that if customers want it, they'll stock it but it can be too late by then."
Mr Fishburn and Mr Honeywood give the example of architects and designers who are under a lot of pressure to keep costs low and reduce the time scale. One method of reducing cost is to minimise the amount of concrete in the building - this also reduces build time as less concrete sets quicker.
Often concrete floors have to be certain strength just to support the weight of the access equipment which will be used to help install the necessary mechanical and electrical services in the building. One of the notable features of the Leonardo is it's lightweight: just 450 kg, so floor loading is less.
If a building designer specifies Leonardos rather than much heavier scissors, then the amount of concrete used in the floors can be substantially reduced sometimes saving millions. Usually major contractors will have preferred rental companies and by involving them in the process and assuring them that if they buy the Leonardos they will be rented, a sale is secured.
It sounds simple but requires Bravi UK to have an in-depth knowledge of its industry and to be prepared for a long lead time.
Mr Bravi, designer of the Leonardo and managing director of the Italian manufacturer Braviisol, had worked as an M& E (mechanical and electrical) contractor. He designed the Leonardo to solve the real issues that he'd encountered with traditional scaffold towers and heavy, unwieldy scissors.
Mr Honeywood explains that the Leonardo is still very relevant to the M&E trades: low floor loading means several can operate on one floor at a time, they are manoeuvrable and fit into an elevator so are easy to get to a jobsite and you can drive them from the platform which increases productivity.
In many new builds the electrical and mechanical fittings are prefabricated into a framework so it arrives on the jobsite in 8/9m grid pieces. Mr Honeywood says that two men in scissor will struggle with the frame whereas it is quick and efficient to Jack the frame up to height and secure it using tradesmen in Leonardos.
In the current climate some contactors might bulk at the cost of a Leonardo over a scaffold tower but Mr Honeywood describes why this can be a false economy. "There are hidden costs in a scaffold tower," he says, "for example you need two people to erect it, and it takes time to erect it so already you are paying for an extra person and a longer rental period. When you come to dismantle the tower pieces inevitably get lost and you have to pay penalties - in addition transportation and delivery costs can be higher."
NG Bailey is among the UK's leading providers of building services including mechanical, electrical and off-site manufacture, the company uses Leonardos and estimates that its saves at least a hours a week over scaffolding: extrapolated over a worksite that constitutes a considerable saving.
In its first year of trading (from April to December 2008) Bravi UK sold 160 Leonardos, plus other equipment (see box). "Ideally," says Mr Fishburn, "we want to be selling 400 Leonardos a year - the market can definitely take it.
"Most [access] rental companies are geared up for steel erection [which is in decline] M&E work is potentially still there.
"Access must morph and balance its fleets."
The passion, which Mr Bravi shows for the Leonardo and his drive to enhance and improve th e product is complementary to Bravi UK's enthusiasm.
Already Braviisol has produced an ‘outdoor pack' which provides the Leonardo with a system that can be retrofitted to the machine: providing it with enough stability to be used outside. The pack, which comes in response to customer demands - particularly steel erectors - provides the Leonardo with enough stability to be used outside. It adds some weight but does not impair performance.
The goal of meeting customers' requirements has been pursued by Braviisol, in conjunction with Bravi UK by the circulation of a survey to customers. The survey results will be instrumental in the design of an enhanced product which should appear at the end of the summer.
Meanwhile Bravi UK is not standing still and expects to be able to announce another relationship string to its bow very shortly.