Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Richard Tindale on Snorkel Lifts and international sales

Richard Tindale has just been to Holland and is soon to be jetting off to the United States – just two of the many territories Snorkel Lifts trade in.

Snorkel Lifts is a division of the Tanfield Group Plc., and produces aerial work platforms, or ‘cherry pickers’ as they are more commonly known. In the position of global sales and marketing director for the Group, Richard is responsible for maintaining sales of the product.

“The products are manufactured in Washington and St Josephs Missouri, and then they are sold all over the world,” he explains.

“Many people assume that we operate purely in construction, but they are used for a mix of applications, including putting up street lighting and Christmas decorations.”

Snorkel have a network of distributors, from New Zealand and Australia to the USA, Mexico and Africa, and from the start, the policy at the company was to have individual distributors in each territory.

“We set up regional offices within each distribution centre we offer a full service of sales and support, so each one knows the brand inside out.

“Because we have an exclusivity deal with one distributor we can then build up a strong relationship with them.

“This is indispensable to the success of the business, and we are very particular about maintaining this integrity because it means we maintain loyalty, even in hard times.”

In 2007 Snorkel bought out UpRight Lifts, and in 2010 the whole business was incorporated under the Snorkel brand

“It was a difficult time, because it can be hard to change a brands which has a strong identity and loyalty, but we successfully changed peoples opinions to show that while we have a modern appearance we still have modern values.”

The company adds to the long tradition of manufacturing in the North East, and contributes heavily to the export economy, as 90% of their products are shipped overseas. The company are now looking forward to implement and maintain an aggressive growth strategy overseas.

“Growth has been constrained by the supply chain., but the demand is definitely there, and products being shipped.

“Equally the equipment is simple, reliable and easy to maintain, which is also well suited to the rental market, so we are also keen to encourage this too.”

Richard strengths lie in exports, and in 2008 he was the winner of the personal achievement category at the North East Exporter Awards for increasing sales from £5.4 million to 43.7 million in just 2 years. He would now like to gain a further foothold in the US, which represents 50% of the world market for this type of device.

“We’ve established a new sales and marketing team to establish a high level of activity.

“If we can even gain just a few more percentage points it will result in lots more products being built, which will in turn support our plants that already punch way above their weight.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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