Miracles Take a Little Longer

“I need it by Thursday” so says a potential client.

“I’m afraid our lead time is a fortnight in the factory at the moment” say I.

“But I need it by Thursday” reiterates client.

I inwardly sigh.

To fill in the background so you can understand my irritation- today is already Tuesday – so you can see my predicament.

Here at Cobalt we really do try and help all our clients to achieve all their objectives but we seem to have received a flurry of (what I call) ‘daft’ deadlines in the last few months. Potential clients ringing up who seem to think that they are our only enquiry and we are all poised ready to spring into action to design, manufacture and commission their new conveyor system within hours?!

It is leaving me baffled. If you are working in a business environment where you have identified that you need to automate a section of your production process surely you can plan in the conversion from manual to automated with a lead in time more than several hours?

What is happening in our manufacturing workplaces? Poor planning? Sudden surplus budgets that need to be spent before they are reassigned somewhere else? Or overworked and overstretched Operations Managers?

Resisting the urge not to lose business at any cost is overwhelming, but as I have discovered taking on too many ‘rush’ jobs just to placate a potential new client can often be to the detriment of existing planned in work for long standing clients. Therefore I have actually turned away work in favour of keeping existing and very loyal clients happy as they have provided our ‘bread and butter’ income for over 7 years now. My team need time to ensure that every conveyor is of the high standard that I expect and that quality cannot be rushed.

Maybe this propensity for expecting instant response and delivery is just a sign of the times in which we live? Amazon has a lot to answer for!

In the meantime this small family run business will continue to deliver the impossible immediately but miracles will take a little longer!


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Don’t Forget To Register For Maintec 2013

Cobalt Conveyors is delighted to have taken a stand for the second year running at the MAINTEC 2013 exhibition at the NEC, Birmingham, 5th March to 7th March.

With the guiding principle of MAINTEC to offer key decision makers from industry ways to boost plant performance, reduce costs and encourage timely intervention to prevent faults and failures, Cobalt has developed an attractive maintenance offering to help companies prevent costly conveyor downtime.

Visitors calling onto the Cobalt Conveyors Stand (G19) during the exhibition, will also get the chance to see Cobalt’s own ‘Made in Great Britain’ belt conveyors.

To register for Maintec 2013 simply follow the link below:


maintec 2013

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The Importance of Getting Off Your Ar*e

Just had a telling off…for not updating this infernal blog – yet again! And to be fair the person who gave me this long overdue ticking off had a good point.

As for many family run businesses, last year was a long and difficult 12 months for Cobalt. The temptation was to simply batten down the hatches and hope for the bad times to evaporate. However, that was never going to work. We soon realised that the only philosophy we could adopt was that of the SAS – ‘Who Dares Wins’ or in my case – Del Boy Trotter!

First we went back to basics and looked at our Business Plan in minute detail. We weeded out what simply wasn’t working and put together a new Business Plan that played to our many strengths and would guide us through to 2015. We also decided that although we were at our lowest point, we would activate our most challenging and scary yet most exciting plan for Cobalt. We set up our own manufacturing facility here in the UK. But I still couldn’t shake the big black cloud of pessimism that was hanging over my head like a curse.

It was while we were slap bang in the middle of renovating our new premises that I met someone who (unknowingly to him) inspired me and gave me the kick I needed to view the world in a more rosy hue.

This 50 something chap walked in the door on a Saturday morning while I was working with the builders to finish the refurbishment. He had worked for the same company for over 30 years and on the day before he had been made redundant as the business he worked for had gone under. He was a highly skilled worker and was going around our business park seeking work … only the day after being laid off … on a weekend. His timing was perfect, we were about to start recruiting for the new manufacturing facility and I asked him to return on the Monday with his CV and references.

At the subsequent interview, suitably impressed with this man’s sheer get up and go, I asked him when he could start? “Now” came the reply!

How easy would it have been after 30 plus years of working, finding yourself redundant, to have a lie in that Saturday? But no – he got off his backside and went actively seeking work. I learned a lesson from him that day.

I know times are hard but let’s get off our ar*es .. cos this time next year we’re gonna be millionaires! 😉


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Being An Exhibitionist

I have always enjoyed trade shows – exhibiting and visiting alike. But over the last couple of years I have noticed that some companies are pooh poohing their value and arguing that they are not seeing the returns that they did in previous years.

At the moment I think that it is like everything else in this testing business climate – any success is hard won! And I don’t see why trade shows should be any different. Yes – people have reduced capital spend, yes – decision makers are being forced to account for every penny spent and yes – closing a sale can be a long drawn out affair with so many hoops to clear before you secure that elusive order number.

However should that mean that you discount one of the principal marketing tools in your strategic artillery? Should you ignore the yearly round of trade shows – whatever your area of business?

After much deliberation, Cobalt hasn’t taken that stance at all. Instead we have sought out new trade shows that we think will attract a similar type of decision maker to those who already number amongst our existing clients. Directors looking for a conveyor company that can offer maintenance of current kit as well as brand spanking new stuff and Maintenance Managers that need existing lines restored, recycled and refurbished to save money but win new business all the same.

In that vein we sourced a trade show all about maintenance and saving time and money. We booked our stand, overhauled our marketing messages, produced some appropriate sales material and thought through our show offer carefully.

What I am trying to say – we didn’t just keep going to the shows that we have always been to. We haven’t just dusted down old pop ups and dug out boxes of literature from two years ago. Times have changed. Companies really have to think and work smarter in every area and that includes in marketing themselves.

But then again – nothing is ever guaranteed in business – so I’m off to make an exhibition of myself at MAINTEC 2012 at the Birmingham NEC tomorrow – let’s hope it rains! (Apparently it increases visitor numbers!) 😉


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Socially Speaking

First a sincere and heartfelt apology for leaving the updating of this blog for so long! (Hangs head in shame). Usual excuse – we’ve been mad busy – even over Christmas and clients come first and blogs a sad second. (Not that my Marketing Manager agrees!)

The new website has been live for a few months now and we are delighted with the results and have received some fabulous feedback regarding the new content and navigation.

One of the more eye-opening aspects of the launch of the new site for me was how important it is to integrate the use of social media with what a company does online. So to complement our website, you can also find Cobalt on Twitter, facebook and Linkedin.

However, and I think this is really important; we are not using social media to ‘sell’ in the old sense of the word. No, we are trying to give our followers a sense of who we really are at Cobalt and what makes us tick. So yes, there is industry information that you will hopefully find interesting, but we also tweet and update to let you know who we are working for on any particular day, what products we are conveying on our systems and what we think about any given event or situation. Even when we encounter a traffic jam we will give you the heads up to avoid it. Already we have made loads of interesting new contacts and indeed friends on social media and above all we are finding it fun!

There is a school of thought that has denigrated social media – calling it impersonal and cold, but we can honestly say that we are interacting with people all over the country and indeed abroad from areas of business with which we would not usually communicate. So why don’t you follow us on Twitter or ‘like’ us on facebook?

We promise to reciprocate…so come on let’s get social!


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All change at Cobalt

Back when I set up Cobalt nearly four years ago it was with the singular vision of providing a great service whilst supplying good quality products. Although I had been in the materials handling industry all my working life – I had always worked for other people and as any business owner will tell you – being the person in charge is wonderfully liberating and terrifying at the same time!

Four years on and I am very proud of the company that Cobalt has become. We have established clear strengths in terms of product development and market niches and have carved out a reputation for being a company that works for our clients as if we are a team within their team.

Simon from Cobalt Conveyors

We set out with a four year business strategy and that blueprint guided us through good times and bad times (show me a boss that doesn’t admit to the latter and I’ll show you a liar!). We learnt from our successes… and our mistakes and have emerged stronger with a clear vision of where we want our future to lead.

Today marks the start of the next phase of Cobalt. The launch of new website is key in our internet marketing campaign as it forms the bedrock of how we source a great chunk of our new business enquiries. However we also wanted it to be a more dynamic interface between us and our existing clients, suppliers and stakeholders. A word of sincere thanks to the team that has helped us develop our new site: Panovista Marketing and Nemo Designs – it’s been a long haul guys, but thank you for all your hard work and patience. (We know that to the lay person – all conveyors look the same!)

So here goes … looking forward to where we go from here!


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