Swish Building Products is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of cellular PVC profiles for roofline and cladding applications. Committed to innovation and improving environmental performance, the company is part of the Epwin Group, a major extruder of PVC-U and PVC-Ue products operating in the new build, social housing, trade and retail sectors. Here, PBM speaks with David Whittaker, National Sales Manager at Swish Building Products.
How did you get into the industry and into your current position?
My first foray into the world of cellular PVC-U was when I worked for Brooks Turkington. They took on a range of cellular products and it became my responsibility to sell them! From there I had a brief spell at CelPlas in Blackpool before starting at plastic profiles manufacturer and supplier, Primo.
In 1995 Primo was acquired by Swish, and I came across as part of the acquisition. I started out as a Regional Sales Manager before taking on my current role as National Sales Manager in 2011.
How do you feel the industry has changed in recent years?
The industry has become far more competitive. We have lost competitors due to insolvency but still end user prices are being driven down. The environment in which we operate has become far more reactive than proactive, and this is something that we, as a business are keen to change.
With our strength and investment Swish has the capacity and ability to adapt; something that I feel will be particularly crucial over the coming years as memories of the recession fade and the industry becomes more demanding.
What are the current challenges facing your company?
We are part-way through the construction of a new 85,000 square feet distribution centre in Tamworth; it sits just over the road from our main site. We will be operating from this new facility in the New Year, after which our warehouse in Telford will move across, so it will all be under one roof!
Our challenge is to integrate two distribution points into one and ensure that this new centre is a success, another improvement to our customer service package. We want to maximise our ability to service our customers with more products through one point of order and one delivery.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
Undoubtedly the biggest challenge I have faced was when we lost our largest customer. One of our competitors slipped into receivership and our largest customer acquired the remnants of that business to start production themselves. Overnight we lost several million pounds worth of business.
The challenge for me was to lead the sales team to ensure we recouped as much of that business as we could, and relocate it with other distributors and stockists. I am pleased to say that we were very successful in doing just that, and opened numerous new accounts that allowed us to plug the hole quickly, and sustainably.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Personally I would like to continue doing the job that I do now; a role that I love. As for Swish, I would like to see it extend the product range, investing in new products and innovation. In turn this will enable us to offer greater support and service to our customers, allowing them to develop their own businesses and differentiate themselves from their competition.
For more information on Swish’s full range of rainwater, roofline and cladding products visit www.swishbp.co.uk