Doubling exports to 79 countries in the past five years and becoming one of the few UK suppliers of consumer products to be a market leader in the US may seem like good news in itself. However, Acorn Stairlifts had another big reason to celebrate in 2015. The company took home two awards from the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards, the premier UK industry recognition programme. The wins in the ‘Export’ and ‘Winner of Winners’ categories drove home to staff the importance of their market gains and cemented the company’s status as a manufacturing leader.
The key to Acorn Stairlifts’ export strategy was to use the company’s financial and managerial resource to create its own subsidiaries in target markets, enabling Acorn to retain full control over both marketing and sales and also the speed and quality of installation.
"For Acorn, as a manufacturer supplying goods direct to consumers, the boost to our business from winning these awards has been significant. For a manufacturer which supplies its products directly to other manufacturers, the benefits could be incredible.” – Dave Belmont, Company Secretary, Acorn Stairlifts
Acorn’s growth has been wholly organic, through developing new and existing markets, whilst using its own expertise and resources. Perhaps most significantly of all, Acorn’s growth has been achieved whilst retaining and protecting its UK manufacturing processes, building all stairlifts here in the UK and shipping them to be sold and installed abroad. This has provided and safeguarded hundreds of jobs in the UK.
This growth encouraged Acorn to enter the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards. Company Secretary Dave Belmont says: “The entry process was extremely rigorous but straightforward, and surprisingly enjoyable. EEF were always ready to help with telephone workshops and other assistance.”
Judge’s Comments: “The judges felt this was a terrific story of UK manufacturing success, growth and innovation in product process and marketing – logical and concise. The judges were particularly impressed with the FastTrack innovation, which opened international markets and led to their current position as number one in the US market.”
Dave says, taking home two national awards meant “there is a notable spring in the step of our staff that’s brought about by working for a ‘British Manufacturing Champion’. And the award has been very well received by staff and suppliers and, in particular, it has raised our profile enormously in the business community. The experience was so good, we are entering in a different category this year.”
The EEF Future Manufacturing Awards is the most rigorous and respected recognition programme in UK manufacturing. Companies of all sizes can apply in categories ranging from developing people to apprentices to business growth. Regional winners in each category go onto the national awards event held annually in London. Learn more about the awards and see 2016’s categories.