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Electronics distributor pushes turnover to new heights with the help of new strategy

David Roberts (centre) The Alternative Board , with Tom Kneale (left) and Phil Kneale of Graphtec, Wrexham

A NORTH Wales-based electronics distributor has pushed turnover to record levels by implementing a new strategy developed with the input of fellow business leaders.

Phil, 67, and Tom Kneale, 34, run Graphtec GB, which distributes computer controlled cutting equipment from Wrexham, increased sales past £4m for the first time, up from £3.2m.

After considering their options and taking advice from David Roberts, who runs peer-to-peer business coaching service The Alternative Board (TAB) in North East Wales, the company expanded its product line and re-examined its pricing structure.

The decision was aided by the pair taking the chance to re-acquaint themselves with every aspect of the business during the first Covid-19 lockdown. With the majority of staff either working from home or furloughed as sales and supply initially slowed down, they expanded their roles to ensure customers’ needs were met.

“In the early days of the pandemic, for everything that needed someone in the office it was up to Phil and I to keep it ticking over for all of our customers, from top to bottom,” said Tom. 

“We managed to keep disruption to a minimum, and also get a renewed grasp of the business. 

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“My plan was to add in new product lines and services from suppliers, and while it was a big step, it has proved incredibly successful.

“David Roberts and TAB helped us develop this new strategy, which included supplying a wider range of systems for trade and hobbyists alike, such as printers, engravers, specialist software and a wide range of other accessories.”

“One of the big parts of TAB is the meetings, where you meet with David and other business leaders. These are very helpful in allowing you to raise problems and discuss solutions with other people in business who may have a bit more experience or knowledge than you do. 

“They can really help shed light on a particular area, when you’re looking for solutions or help find new opportunities.

Phil has now stepped back from day-to-day involvement but is always on-hand whenever needed with advice or anything else, as is fellow co-owner Tony Hudson.

Phil said: “As many of our clients are signwriters and hobbyists such as paper crafters who might be making cards, we were one of the few businesses where we weren’t necessarily negatively impacted overall by Covid-19.

“However, there were times when it was touch and go with how suppliers and dealers could work, so those conversations with David that Tom and I had really helped us keep the ship on an even keel.

“As a result, turnover rose from £3.2m to just over £4m. We also managed to keep staffing steady through the pandemic, even bringing in an extra person. We’re now also in a position to be recruiting for three additional roles.”

David Roberts, who has been working with Phil for the last five years, and has continued to work with Tom, believes the two deserve great credit for piloting their firm through the choppy waters and coming out stronger.

David said: “Businesses often worry about big decisions like putting prices up or adding in new product lines as there is an element of chance involved in this. But you have to balance this with the risk you leave yourself exposed to by not evolving. 

“By taking the time to discuss and air their challenges with like-minded individuals, Phil and Tom found the right way for them to proceed for Graphtec GB, and by every measure they’ve been successful. 

“They’re coming out of the worst of the pandemic in a stronger position, with a growth in turnover as well as increasing their staffing numbers boosting jobs locally.”