View from the top: Growing gains

Written by: Paul Fanning | Published:

Fastening supplier TFC's growth over the last few years has been extensive. Here, Paul Fanning talks to the company's MD Morgan Burgoyne about the philosophy that underpins it.

When referring to how the fastening supplier changes companies it has acquired, TFC's managing director Morgan Burgoyne refers to the process of "TFC-ing" them. And, as he explains, while this process does involve physical change in terms of equipment and decor – as well as, it is as much a change of culture. "Our philosophy is that you have to respect one another throughout the business," he says. "We're not so big that we don't know everyone's names and we've tried to push that culture of respect throughout the business."

And the fact is that, since 2007, quite a few companies and premises have been 'TFC'd', as the company has expanded by acquisition and start-up across the UK. To be precise, as well as its Head Office and Technical Centre in Heathfield, East Sussex, the TFC family of companies now includes TFC Essex Service Centre in Colchester; TFC Midlands in Walsall; TFC Engineering Services in Keighley, West Yorkshire; and TFC Scottish Premier Fasteners in Airdrie.

Says Burgoyne: "When I and [executive chairman] Martin Clarke came into the business in 2007, our vision was to use our skills in logistics and general fastener knowledge to build on the excellent base of technical products we already had. We had the opportunity to combine the technical and general fastener aspects of our business by keeping the technical centre where it was in Heathfield and building businesses around the country."

This process began in 2007 with the start up of the Colchester Service centre and will continue in January 2014, when the recently-acquired SFP range of products will be housed in the Heathfield Technical Centre. The impetus for it was simply a desire to meet the needs of as many of TFC's existing customers as completely as possible.

Says Burgoyne: "We knew there were a lot of TFC customers out there – 3,000 of them across the UK – and that we could only meet their aspirations on technical products. In order to meet their needs on our more general product range, we had to become local. As a result, we needed strategic places throughout the UK.

"The focus was to look at the UK and make sure that we could establish a very firm foundation and make sure we could deliver to our customers from a technical, product and logistical point of view. There were two ways of doing this: putting together a local start-up as in the Essex example; or acquiring an existing business as in the other examples. "

However, while Burgoyne suggests that, following the establishment of the Scottish office, the company is "pretty much there now" in terms of UK acquisitions, the same is not true of mainland Europe.

The company's German office in Bochum has already been upgraded, moving into a new office and warehouse, but Burgoyne is clear that this is only the start, saying: "Germany is the big prize for us and we need to focus to get that growth. Our aspiration for that business is high – want to use that area to go to customers and compete on general fasteners as well as technical products. Our five-year vision is to organically grow business in UK and start working with potential acquisitions or start up service sites in Germany. We want to take it to the next level."

With this in mind, then, it would seem that a few more businesses will be getting "TFC'd" in the coming years.

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