Published On: Sun, Jun 8th, 2014

Sue Davenport, Group Marketing Director at the Flamstead Group

First Job: Commercial Trainee, working in lots of different departments to learn business skills.

When did you join current company: Joined August 2013

Most useful/favourite gadget: My iPhone – I’d be lost without it!

Favourite/most useful website: MailChimp is a great email communication and CRM tool. I also highly rate LinkedIn for business networking.

Business person you admire: Michelle Mone – the creator of the Ultimo underwear range. I heard her speak last year and was blown away by her business acumen, can-do attitude, drive and energy.

Favourite UK restaurant: The Calabria Cucina is my local favourite in Chesterfield – superb Italian food and ideal for special occasions.

Best business decision: Taking the decision to follow my original passion for marketing after spending the early part of my career in other business areas.

Other interests: I’ve been running for about 3 years and will be attempting my first half-marathon in September this year. I love watching ice hockey and supporting my team, the Sheffield Steelers. I’m also a big music fan, especially rock – I attend a lot of gigs as well as helping to promote a local music venue in my spare time.


Working Day: At Liniar, no two days are ever the same, which keeps me on my toes! I could be planning strategy with Roger, approving designs, writing emails, case studies or press releases, updating the website and reviewing social media progress with the team or liaising with customers on the phone. I may be visiting customers – it’s easier to develop relationships face-to-face, to understand their marketing needs and find out what they really think of Liniar! Our primary focus is helping Liniar fabricators and installers sell to homeowners, so brochures are being refreshed. We’re developing videos, starting with bi-folds and roofs, making it easier for installers to see exactly how Liniar products should be fitted – involving storyboards, scripts, voiceovers and edits. Online marketing is key as it’s fast, more informal and more importantly, measurable. And with over 10 exhibitions booked in 2014, covering the whole of Liniar’s product range, I’m lucky to have a multi-skilled team!

Working Location: I work at Liniar’s main office in Derbyshire. The purpose-built, modern facility includes not only the extrusion plant but the recently opened warehouse and mixing plants. The building provides an excellent working environment and reflects perfectly the forward thinking and modern outlook of the business. I share the office with the rest of the marketing team to facilitate creativity and ideas, and our room directly adjoins that of the R&D team – a great place for the marketing department to be! We have a great mix of skills within the team, and can all turn our hands to anything that needs to be done. This is symptomatic of the general culture at Liniar; there’s a real team spirit of everyone pulling together, and the fact the structure is so flat makes for quick decision-making and a speedy response time when challenges arise.



SueD_cropI believe that I have joined the best systems company in the industry, one that after just six years in business is in a great position to become a true market leader in 2014; the ambition of the company is clear for all to see, and this is based on a clear understanding of its customer base, their own ambitions and their expectations of Liniar. We know through the new product innovations we will bring to market this year, supported by an extensive marketing support package, that we will be able to meet their wishes.

Outstanding performance

It is clear from the company performance in 2013 which saw fantastic growth that we are on the right track in terms of how we do business, and as a consequence we will continue to grow during 2014. This is not just ‘marketing-speak’ from Liniar – we’re not sitting in an ivory tower thinking everything is great – this is based on what our existing customers are telling us, it is based on the consistency of their growth for the last few years in spite of the recession, and it is based on the fact that we now have some of the major industry players as fabricators of our systems. We will not however simply grow for growth’s sake. Our plans are long term and need to be sustainable; and they need to be based around supporting our existing customer base, many of whom joined us at the beginning when we had nothing. The loyalty they showed to us then will constantly be rewarded with new products and new ideas to help them grow at the expense of their competitors. Unlike some systems we will not make our ‘crown jewel’ products available to anybody but our own customers – that is the least we do.

Planning for growth

We have discussed at some length how we are going to grow the Liniar business. Key for us is to ensure that planned growth is supported by on-going investment in infrastructure, and we have already ordered additional extruders to come on line by the middle of the year to be ready for customer demand. The same goes for further investment in foiling machinery, warehouse capacity, and transport infrastructure. We do not intend to grow the business first then worry about how to service it later; that is not our philosophy. Our growth will be built on great service and great products which in turn will bring us outstanding customer loyalty, enabling us to sustain our position as an industry leader.

Product introductions – true innovation will set us apart

As always our design team is busy with the next wave of innovations, and I think this is one of the things that sets us apart from many of our competitors. We do not simply look to tweak an existing product or modify one to meet the latest regulations on the horizon. Our philosophy is to set new benchmarks and to design products which are entirely different in concept to anything that has gone before. To us, this is the essence of true innovation, to trust in our experience of the market, and through dialogue with our fabricators to be brave enough to bring out products which others have either not yet considered, or have considered and rejected.

Dedicated PVC-U bi-fold door

Our bi-folding door is perhaps a prime example of this; we were the first to market with a dedicated PVC-U bi-fold door, and its sales continue to soar ahead. In the first quarter this year it is our intention to bring out an entirely new concept in bi-folding doors which will enable our customers to compete with the aluminium bi-fold door market. They will have a product every bit as robust as aluminium, but more thermally efficient, and by design more cost competitive; this is what Liniar is about. We will also be continuing with our plans for the Liniar Zoom roof with the full intention of making it the best product on the market before the year is out. At FIT Show 2014 we will be launching a whole new set of components, many of which have not been seen in the conservatory industry previously.

Partnership with our fabricators

We know that Liniar’s success hinges on the success of our fabricators; that is why we continue to bring new products to market, to give them a competitive advantage at fabricator and installer level over their direct rivals for business. We also know that it is only by engaging with our fabricators that we can truly progress as a company long term. At the end of the day they are closer to the true market than we are; they are the ones winning or losing work from the consumer, and the key for us is to make sure that we increase the amount of feedback from them. Our customers know that we will not let them down by allowing fabricators of other systems to have our key products, and therefore they know that if we work as a partnership we will all genuinely benefit.

Sense of loyalty

Every time I speak to a Liniar customer there’s an overwhelming sense of loyalty, trust, and pride in the brand. It’s fantastic to have come to a company that’s already built such a positive following, based on the people behind it and the products it makes. One customer who recently switched across to Liniar said that over 10 key areas, Liniar products beat the competition 9 times against 1 (and we’re working on the other one!) Only by having this mutual trust can it be a genuine partnership. Lots of companies talk about it, but we know we can deliver on it. Our open days, our customer visits, and our focus groups all help us to keep in touch with what is really going on in the marketplace, and we use that information to drive sales back to them. Most successful campaign to date: It’s still early days, but we’ve increased Liniar’s social media followers tremendously over the past few months and unique website visits are also up more than 50% year on year – so more people are visiting – and they are staying for longer. One success at a previous company that I’m still really proud of was planning and executing a campaign that resulted in a business book getting to number one on the Amazon chart, beating Lord Sugar’s autobiography. There’s nothing better than being able to see the results from a marketing campaign and know that it’s worked.

Market lessons to learn

I think the biggest market lesson, and one which many companies have not yet heeded is to listen to your customers, and to your customer’s customers. We can sit in our office and think we know what the fabricator and installer market needs, but this is not the case. For too long the systems companies have dictated the pace of the market; the reality, especially in this post recession era, is that the consumer will decide the pace of the market, and that information needs to be collected through the installers, the fabricators, and then back to us. If we listen, we will learn; and if we learn we will forge ahead of our competition in the market and support our fabricators and installers to do the same.

Market opportunities

It is from the same process that we will uncover new market opportunities. We are constantly looking for new and innovative products to bring to market, some of which are direct window and door systems, but others of which are complementary products to our core market and which are sold and installed through the same fabricator/installer supply chain and which gives them the opportunity to maximise their time in a person’s home.

Biggest challenges

The environment is so fast-moving that it can be a constant challenge keeping up to date with all of the latest new product releases and innovations! This is why online marketing is ideal for Liniar, as it’s much quicker to update a website than it is to get an entire brochure reprinted. Having said that, brochures are still hugely important for the sales force who are selling the product into homes around the UK, so they’ll remain a large part of our plans – we need to get the balance right for the different types of customer that are out there.

My personal goals and aims

Ultimately I’d like Liniar to become recognised outside the industry, getting homeowners to understand the unique selling points and to ask for Liniar products by name. This really is a long-term ambition as it will take time, planning, innovation and investment; all of which Liniar has in abundance.

One piece of advice for fabricators

Get feedback from every job you do, and take photographs (and even video) whenever you can, and use them on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. People trust other people’s opinions, hence the success of websites such as TripAdvisor – so let your happy customers do your marketing for you!

Tel: 01332 883900