Neil Baldwin, managing director of ESP, provides some insight into how the business is exceeding expectations in the prevailing environment.
These are without doubt the most challenging times that our industry, the country and the world has faced in the last century. It is nearly a year since the country was placed into the first national lockdown, when our way of working and living was changed overnight beyond recognition. Over time we have had to learn to embrace a new way of working that puts the safety of our employees, customers and suppliers at the forefront of everything we do.
As a business ESP has been fortunate to have ridden the storm so far. Unlike some companies, we made the decision early on last year to get all our sales managers back from furlough and out on the road and interacting with customers remotely – and that has really paid off. We have exceeded our expectations for the business over the last 12 months and we are experiencing growth in all the categories we operate in – CCTV, access control, fire protection, emergency lighting, plus the Sangamo heating and timer controls.
We can attribute some of this growth to the increase in demand for products that provide a solution to the prevailing environment, for example access control. We are also picking up orders that other companies have been unable to fulfil whether that is due to difficulty getting hold of products or simply that they are not operating at full strength due to the restrictions. The fact that we can offer such a broad range of products from under one roof has also been an asset.
One area of exceptional growth for ESP has been the access control sector. Since July we have seen a continual and striking uplift in sales across the whole of our access control product category. With the emphasis on ensuring minimum risk of exposure to the coronavirus, building owners have been following guidelines and implementing ways of restricting access to premises to authorised personnel only. This has led to all types of businesses big and small seeing the benefits of installing door entry systems to control access to the buildings as a means to help reduce the transmission of the virus. We have had orders for work on hotels, GP surgeries, schools, dentists, office premises and building sites.
A key part of our strategy early on was to continue to communicate with our wholesale customers, contractors and installers via direct marketing as well via the various digital platforms. We wanted to let them know that we remained open for business, were able to fulfil all orders and would work to support them in any way we could to help them keep their businesses operating smoothly.
We continued to invest last year, with additions to the sales and technical teams, and have been developing our training programmes so that wholesalers and contractors can continue to benefit from our fire systems and general security training sessions via zoom. We have also been able to commit to our plans for a number of major initiatives across different product groups, to improve our offer in the market. We have just relaunched the Sangamo range of heating and timer controls and we are about to unveil some new developments for the CCTV range.