Industrial laser systems manufacturer, Rofin-Baasel UK Ltd (‘RBUK) has just released its audited accounts for its financial year to end-September 2012; bookings and turnover for the UK/Ireland operation were up 12% on last year, adding to a remarkable 3-year run since 2009 which shows business up 75%.
A pre-tax profit of almost £500,000 on a group turnover of over £11M makes 2012 the most profitable year ever, as well as the highest turnover and greatest number of lasers installed.
Against a fairly challenging business climate, what is the company doing right? Managing Director, Andrew May sets out seven things he believes help to set Rofin apart from the competition:
1. Service. “During office hours you’ll speak to a person. We don’t use an automated or menu-driven phone system; most incoming calls are answered within just 3 rings. You don’t need a PIN or a service contract; we’re free to talk to during working hours. Whilst other companies are ‘improving customer service’ by having you key in data before they will talk to you, we prefer to invest in trained staff who are ready to talk to you. Everybody prefers it that way.”
2. Access to engineering support. “Our Technical Helpdesk is manned during office hours so we can always put you through to one of our engineers directly. There’s even a new ‘Online Chat’ function on our website for those who prefer to reach an engineer within seconds from their PC. Outside of working hours we can provide you with emergency contact details so that we are always there to support you.”
3. The best lasers. “Rofin’s lasers and components are made at specialist manufacturing sites all over the world, including the UK and Germany. 35 years of laser R&D has resulted in an accumulated experience and know-how that is second to none. Taking into account Rofin Sinar UK Ltd in Hull, where we make CO2 Slab lasers it’s good to note that Rofin employs 175 staff in the UK across its 3 companies meaning that after Germany and the USA, Rofin in the UK employs the most staff.”
4. Efficiency. “We use technology when appropriate – databases and CRM software, etc. - but not when it’s a barrier to real customer contact. We operate out of functional, not flashy offices – no fountains or oak-panelled offices for us – we spend the cash on demonstration equipment and £1M of spare parts stocks instead.”
5. Technology-independence. “We make almost all industrial laser types, so if you come to us with an application we can help you decide which technology works best for you. If you go to a fibre laser company, they will try to make the application work with a fibre laser – because that’s all they have! If you talk to a CO2 laser company, they will do their best with that technology.
6. At Rofin, we make all the core industrial laser sources: CO2, direct diode, fibre and YAG/Vanadate. We offer pulsed, Q-switched and continuous-wave power. We offer output wavelengths at 355nm, 532nm, 810nm, 940nm, 1064nm and 10.6um (and more ….). We offer beam delivery via galvo deflection, moving optic and fibre optic. We can work with you to choose the right product for you – in terms of throughput, performance and cost”
7. Application laboratories. “We have demonstration and testing lasers at 3 sites in the UK – housing a total of around 30 laser systems of all different types. We can test applications for you (and you can visit to observe) within days; this is the basis of what we do. On the occasions when we think you need to try out lasers which we don’t have in the UK we arrange to schedule a trial/visit with colleagues at one of our 4 major German sites.”
8. Staff experience. “The average technical staff member (sales, service or manufacturing) at RBUK has 16 years’ laser experience – many have over 20. So we know lasers. We have remarkably low staff turnover. Our Sales staff aren’t ‘just’ salespeople; they develop processes and applications with you, train and explain. Since most likely they will have processed the sample you are discussing they can answer all your questions – were there fumes? Was it noisy? How long did it take to set up? etc.”