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Spencer Kelly

Genevieve Lewis speaks to Spencer Kelly sales director at Innova Solutions, on how a great team has produced positive and sustainable growth for the company

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(L to R) Roy Bright, operations director with Spencer Kelly, sales director, Glenn Dunleavey managing director, and Linda Barrowclough, finance and logistics director

Innovative solutions, energy and enthusiasm

Innova has experienced growth in difficult economic conditions and in a competitive environment. What are the key factors which have contributed towards this growth?

We started Innova 16 years ago, and since then we’ve enjoyed year upon year of positive, sustainable growth which continues to be fuelled by a mix of energy, enthusiasm, product quality, product development and premium customer service.

The Innova Solutions team at the firm’s base in Lancashire

We have a really close-knit team who are empowered to make their own decisions, and this culture of both autonomy and collaboration is great for the business. It’s resulted in a fantastic staff retention rate - many of our staff are in gold watch territory!

We have a really close-knit team who are empowered to make their own decisions, and this culture of both autonomy and collaboration is great for the business

Importantly, we have always put the customer at the heart of our business, we’re constantly alive with fresh ideas on how to ‘make life easier’ for them. One of the ways we do this is with free on-site surveys which give us the information we need to develop a range of cutting edge products which are specifically tailored to the needs of the sign-maker.

We also have an active representation with both the British Sign & Graphic Association (BSGA) and Photoluminescent Safety Products Association (PSPA), keeping us at the heart of the markets we currently support.

What new product developments over the last two years have had the biggest impact in the sign industry?

The need to bond lighter, thinner gauge materials permanently, while still retaining the finished sign aesthetics continues to be a challenge. Add to this the desire for more eco-friendly bonding solutions and we really have to keep working to rise to these challenges and justify the Innova ethos of making life easier.

Recent developments within the sign industry have included a new, clear, and flexible two-part adhesive that has revolutionised the way that companies manufacture acrylic faced built-up-letters. Conventional two-part adhesives have cured hard and inflexible, causing cracking to occur between the acrylic face and metal return due to the differential expansion. The alternative way of making these letters involved the use of polymer adhesives that were slow to cure.

Our chemists have pioneered an exclusive formula that enables a fast, five minutes cure time, coupled with clarity when the letter is illuminated, and flexibility when the finished letter is in situ. The product was developed in conjunction with the UK’s largest letter manufacturer, which rigorously exterior tested the product for 12 months to replicate different climatic and environmental conditions.

Our NovaBond range of high strength bonding tapes continues to expand with products that are capable of bonding either prior to, or after the powder coat paint process. Over the past 12 months, we have seen a massive surge in enquiries for both our NovaBond high strength bonding tapes and structural adhesives to be made flame retardant. This has resulted in Innova developing a range of solutions that are backed up by indicative, industry specific testing by the country’s leading test laboratory.

The NovaBond range continues to expand with new products added

You’ve recently invested in new machinery. What impact has that had on the business in terms of productivity?

Yes, we have recently invested in a state-of-the-art Cevenini slitter that gives us tremendous flexibility in terms of the products that we can process and the benefit of bringing down customer lead times.  While we always enjoyed fantastic relationships with our conversion partners, we were increasingly putting massive pressures on them to deliver due to the increase in volume and sales.  The Cevenini has resulted in us taking on new warehousing and an additional two employees to cope with the ever increasing demand.

Innova currently exports 25 percent of its turnover, do you think Brexit will have an impact on growth?

To be honest, there is so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit at the moment, I don’t think anybody can predict what is around the corner. The biggest concern remains currency fluctuation and the willingness of EU companies to trade with the UK when we finally learn of the nature of our exit. Two of our largest export customers have just committed to larger volumes for the next 12 months, so if this news is a barometer of what the future holds, then the signs are positive.

To be honest, there is so much uncertainty surrounding Brexit at the moment, I don’t think anybody can predict what is around the corner


How has Innova Solutions managed to grow despite a looming Brexit?

I vividly recall the morning after the Brexit vote. We decided as a business that we would wait for six months for things to settle down, and wrote to our customers to advise them of our plan. After that period we unfortunately had to implement a nine percent increase, our first increase for six years, and totally unprecedented in terms of the increment.

We were also taking our fair share of the pain with the devaluation of the pound against global currencies. In order to minimise the impact, we worked closely with our supply partners and our customers. This open, honest ethos was embraced by both suppliers and customers alike, and we were delighted in May to reverse some of the nine percent increase, on certain product ranges, due to the pound’s stronger performance.

Essentially, the strong relationships we’ve built with both suppliers and customers have been the key to sustainable growth. 

Following on from your recent expansion, what does the rest of 2018 and beyond look like for Innova?

Economic and political uncertainty aside, we have the right foundations in terms of our people, products, systems, and sales potential to see continued growth through 2018 and beyond.  We will continue to listen to and work closely with our partners to deliver a range of products and services that they tell us will benefit their business. When the dust settles, we are confident that we will be in a strong position for continued growth in both UK and export markets.

Key stats

  • Innova exports 25 percent of turnover
  • Innova was founded 16 years ago
  • Many of Innova’s products are environmentally- friendly
  • Innova are based in Lancashire

For the full interview go to www.signlink.co.uk and search ‘Kelly’

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