Published On: Sun, Jun 8th, 2014

Mike Crewdson, Sales and Marketing Director at Emplas

First Job: My first job was in B2B telesales working for hardware supplier Unifix. I went in at 21 and by the time I left at 26 I was General Manager for their Export Division. My first job in the industry was as Group Marketing Manager for the Epwin Group, which I joined in 1986 before becoming MD of Profile 22.

When did you join Emplas: I joined Emplas in 2005 but Kevin [Johnson, MD Emplas] had been a friend for much longer.

Most useful/favourite gadget: My I-pad. It’s so useful for business and personal use. It’s my camera, diary, organiser, it’s got my books on it. It seems like my whole life is there!

Favourite website: As a Man City season ticket holder for over 35 years, the Man City website and Sky Sports website.

Business person you admire: Kevin’s two sons, Ryan and Craig. Ryan is deputy MD at Emplas and is there by merit, not by birth. And Craig has done an awesome job setting up and growing our Australian subsidiary. Emplas future is in safe hands.

Recommended hotel for business: I only ever stay in Premier Inns because you know what you’re going to get and good value too.

Favourite UK restaurant: Scallini’s in Knightsbridge. It’s fabulous.

Best business decision: Joining Emplas. It’s the most enjoyable job that I have ever had and it’s a pleasure to have seen it grow and develop into what I believe is the best trade supplier in the and play a part in that growth too.

Other interests: I’m in training for Wainwright’s coast-to-coast walk, which is 190 miles from the Lake District through to Whitby and the plan is to complete in 8 days. I’m hoping to raise £10,000 for a local hospice, so training and walking takes up almost all of my spare time, aside from the football. Walking is quality thinking time too. I have most of my better ideas when walking.


Working Day: Waking at around 6am every morning and working most weeks six out of seven days, Mike Crewdson retains a passion for the window industry on a par with its’ greatest enthusiasts. “It’s very difficult to pick an ‘average day’” he says, “I’m in the office two or three days a week. If I’m here, there are always marketing meetings for the various Emplas Group companies and customers, sales meetings, customer support team meetings and customer marketing workshops to name just a few – there is always plenty to do and lots going on. If I’m in the office I try to make a point of finishing by 6.30 or 7pm.

“If I’m not in the office my day will often start earlier. They way traffic is these days if you’re not through it before everyone else has hit the road, you’re stuffed. As well as heading up the sales and marketing teams, I’m also the primary point of contact for most of our biggest customers. I’ll go out to see them as part of the account management process.”

This is something Crewdson seems to relish. “With big customers there is always lots going on, either in a good way because we’re pushing forward or because they want something sorting”, he explains. “We also work very closely with them to support them in their marketing and lead generation activity and if

Working Location: When in the office Crewdson works from Emplas’ state-of-the-art, Wellingborough manufacturing plant. But this is one director determined to avoid ‘ivory towers’. “I have never had my own office at any point in my career, never wanted one, so my office is in the open plan marketing and new business office here in Wellingborough”, he says. Crewdson continues: “It means that I can listen to everything that’s being said and I know exactly what’s going on.” He adds: “Up until its’ recent expansion, I used to sit in the middle of the customer support office. Again it was open plan and it gave me that connection with the day-to-day running of the business.”


SHOT36The past year has been one of significant growth for Emplas, which reported a 35 per cent increase in turnover year-on-year, this October, while the Northamptonshire trade fabricator has forecast at least 30 per cent growth to its year end. “It’s been quite exceptional,” says Crewdson. He continues: “In May and June this year things started flying. Our customers were suddenly seeing full order books, not just for a couple of weeks ahead but eight to 10 weeks ahead.

“A couple of things have come together,” theorises Crewdson. “You have got latent demand, that’s from both house builders but also homeowners, who have pushed things back during the downturn. We have also seen policy initiatives from the Government, for example Help to Buy and increasing availability of loans and mortgages but most fundamentally of all, there has been a growing return of consumer confidence.”

If this has been a driver of growth, Crewdson and Emplas have also made sure that they and their customers have been fully equipped to take advantage of it. The fabricator continued to invest throughout the downturn expanding its product range but also the service and support offer it provides to its customers, something that Crewdson attributes to the company’s current growth.

Emplas’ own retail business G12 Installer of the Year, T&K, has also informed the fabricator’s trade strategy. Operating only in Northamptonshire while Emplas only supplies the trade outside it, T&K acts as an experimental laboratory, where the fabricator trials its product offer and retail marketing and support before releasing it to its trade customer base.

What this means for Emplas installers is that what they get is fully tried and tested in a retail environment. “We offer a wealth of different lead generation programmes to our customers,” says Crewdson. “The critical thing is that each and every one of those campaigns has been trialled through T&K. There’s not a single campaign that has done it, it’s a combination of different things but T&K has achieved an average of 44 leads per month for the past three months with a 1:2 conversion ratio. That’s contributed to an annual growth in sales of 74 per cent compared to 2012 – and we make all of those techniques available to our customers.

“We’d encourage any installer out there to ask themselves are they getting the product choice, a full product range, the reliability, the quality and the complete orders from their current supplier and then if they are, are they getting the support to move onwards and upwards. If they’re not on either of those accounts, it could be worth a quick call to us.”

And the approach appears to translate effectively into high levels of customer satisfaction. Results for Emplas’ annual benchmarking exercise this year found that product quality was rated good or excellent by 98.7 per cent of Emplas customers compared to an industry average of 79.2 per cent. Complete and on-time deliveries similarly gave Emplas 99.3 per cent compared to a 84.6 per cent industry average.

“The single most important thing for any window business, systems company, fabricator or installer, is getting paid and if you’re waiting for something to turn up or something isn’t right, then it’s not going to happen. We get our deliveries right, we take off the profile manufacturer’s tape and give our customers their own branded tape, as part of a marketing strategy but also to act as a quality control exercise, because we know through our own experience with T&K that it’s no good picking up problems just after the frames are installed because the customer will then prepare a list as long as their arm of snagging issues and will be looking for compensation.

“We understand the challenges that our customers face on a daily basis. We understand how they can be overcome, but most importantly we understand how to support their growth.”

This is apparent in the efforts that Emplas has gone to make its offer available to its customers 24/7 through the launch of its new online Customer Information Manual and the new Online Customer Portal, which in addition to giving installers access to new online resources, allows them to get instant quotes and place orders anytime and anywhere, via the web.

Once set up, all they have to do is log-on from any web-enabled device, for example PC, laptop, tablet or mobile phone, to access a secure quoting and order-processing system.

This gives them instant access to an online ordering portal which allows them to input a specification, choose glass, hardware and furniture and then automatically applies their discounts, to provide an instant quote. Where an order is placed installers get an immediate Order Acknowledgement.

Crewdson added: “Online ordering gives installers full control of the order process. They can access it whenever they want – they can go out, price a job in the evening and if they win it, place the order that night.

“The Customer Information Manual gives them direct support to secure that business plus basic administration tools which will save them time in the office and give them back time to develop and chase down leads. It also makes it very easy for any customer to access any Emplas document or sales literature.”

Research through T&K has informed Emplas’ product development strategy and is reflected in the significant investment in its range as a trade fabricator to better meet more but also changing customer requirements. This has included the launch of a new GRP door range which sits alongside chamfered and fully sculptured casement windows, vertical sliders and a triple-glazed option.

The trade fabricator has also kept its finger very much on the pulse of the conservatory sector and consumer demand for orangery aesthetics at an accessible price point with the addition of mid-market ‘Livinroom’ conservatory/orangery cross-over from Ultraframe.

“Going forward this coming year, we’ll continue to refine and develop our offer to identify those areas of advantage for our installers. This includes unique and bespoke hardware developments, to continuing investment in Kolorplas, our specialist spray painting service.

“The opportunities are out there, more houses are being built. The housing market has picked up. That’s all good for us as an industry and I believe that we have a couple of very good years ahead of us if we make the right decisions now. One thing I learned from Brian Kennedy. Good businessmen will make 10 important decisions every day. If eight of them are right, then you’ll be successful. If trade installers aren’t getting the service from their suppliers now, I’d suggest the first or most important decision for the coming year would to be consider a change.”

So what of the future. Well for Crewdson it sits firmly with Emplas. “I’m not going anywhere, I love the business, the team and love working with the customers, it’s my work, and it’s my hobby,” he says.