View from the top: From challenges to solutions
How does a motion control company gain traction in a competitive market? Expertise and trust are the answers Paul Fanning gets from LG Motion.
When asked why his company LG Motion attracts and retains its customers, Gary Livingstone's answer is short and to the point. "We're trusted," he says.
This trust has been built up over the decade of the company's existence and has its foundation in the fact that it and its staff can offer what Livingstone describes as "hundreds of years of experience" in the field of motion control. This expertise has resulted in the company developing a client base that ranges from university projects to blue-chips such as the European Space Agency, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems.
In fact, such is LG Motion's degree of respect in the market that such illustrious names in the industry as Schneeberger and Heidenhain actually use the company as a their system integrator and reseller.
Says Livingstone: "We tend to be strongest on the R&D side of industry, where people don't necessarily know what they want," says Livingstone. "I do sometimes wonder if we get the jobs that nobody else can do," he jokes.
Summarising the type of work LG Motion undertakes, Livingstone says "We make things go up and down, from side to side and whichever directions our clients want." While obviously simplistic, this description does get to the heart of what it is that its customers value about the company – namely its ability to deliver solutions. "In most cases, what we can do is allow them to worry about the bigger picture of the project knowing that we're taking care of the motion control aspect of things.
"A lot of our job is about an appreciation and understanding what our customers want to achieve. A lot of times I sit in meetings with people and the project they're talking about may be way over my head, but I'm able to boil our role in it down to 'you want this bit to go from here to there?' Being able to focus in on that while they deal with the project as a whole is hugely valuable to our customers."
This personal touch is another facet of the company that Livingstone believes gives LG a major advantage. He says: "We compete with a lot of US corporate but, rather than people just ordering from a catalogue and us shipping them a box of bits, we design and manufacture here on site. Also, we're real people you can come and see. In fact, we encourage people to come and see us in our factory in Basingstoke so they can see the sort of things we do."
In this respect, the size and value of the projects LG Motion works on vary as much as does its client base, with work ranging in value from £5,000 to £100,000 and in size from as small as 200mm2 to 3.2m long and 2.5m3 in volume. Indeed, says Livingstone, "we currently have two 5-axis systems for non-destructive testing that are 2.5m by 1m by 1m".
LG Motion also invests in its own future, with an apprenticeship programme that involves four on-site apprentices being employed at any given time.
Looking forward, Livingstone is optimistic for the year to come. "We've continued to see growth, but most people see 2014 as the year everything will start clicking again. The big corporate will start releasing more on the R&D side because they have to invest as they're getting no return on money in the bank. Equally, the Government has ring-fenced scientific research spending, so we're optimistic."
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