Reflecting on 2020

Reflecting on the unprecedented year of 2020, Robinson Manufacturing have overcome the challenges presented with optimism and a focus on overcoming obstacles. With this positive mindset, close communication and the resilience of the construction industry, we have begun 2021 as a stronger team than ever before.

Following the achievements of 2020, we have summarised some key events of the year which have brought our teams together and allowed us to continue delivering outstanding customer service:

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Significant Appointments

2020 began with some important additions to our team, including Key Account Manager Colleen Humbles and Customer Experience Supervisor Tracy Lappin. Both Colleen and Tracy have been a great support for customers throughout the uncertainty of the first lockdown and the process of the industry returning to normality.

A significant appointment of 2020 has been Head of HSEQ Matt Davies joining the senior leadership team, who has led the continuous improvement of our health and safety procedures, as well as ensuring compliance across the group. Through the implementation of policies and training for all employees, Matt has safeguarded staff well-being in both daily tasks and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

April also brought the important addition to the team of Finance Director Sam Gartside, who balanced the challenge of an induction through lockdown admirably. The finance team has evolved significantly over 2020 with new additions and altering internal processes, which Sam continues to lead as we see increasing demand from customers.

Expansion of Capacity at RML Wales & West

To expand our supply abilities in line with customer demand, February brought a new A V Birch 35t truss press to our Wales & West factory in Abercarn, using the same effective table design innovated by our founder Tim Robinson. This press was assembled by our dedicated maintenance team and has given us the ability to increase output by 40% for this factory.

With further additions to the production team to support this increase in capabilities, Branch Manager Tom Carter has regularly visited the factory to ensure employees are fully trained and our processes as efficient as possible.

Insider’s Manufacturing Awards Victory

After being shortlisted for the ‘Manufacturer of the Year (above £25m)’ award in January, some of our team attended Insider’s manufacturing awards event in February amongst a number of other reputable manufacturing businesses.

As the last and most anticipated award of the night, we were delighted to take home the award of Insider’s ‘Made in Central and East of England Manufacturing Company of the year (above £25m award)! The significant growth experienced in recent years was said to be a key deciding factor of winning this award, with Head of Truss Production Mat Harbour overjoyed to accept the award on the company’s behalf.

A Focus on Sustainability

Ensuring our operations are sustainable and reducing our carbon footprint from travel is a priority for Robinson Manufacturing, which was demonstrated through the installation of electric charging points across various sites from March. As many members of our Senior Leadership Team have made more environmentally responsible company vehicle choices, electric vehicle charging points availability has made travel more efficient.

The installation of these points have allowed us to maintain consistent Senior Leader Team presence across our factories, whilst ensuring staff can offset carbon wherever they travel in their electric vehicles. Our sustainability mission has also been achieved through the installation of a new biomass at RML Central, which has been an effective solution to ensure no timber off-cuts are transported from site, as waste is converted to fuel for our business systems.

Building team morale whilst working remotely

Although operations were paused during the initial COVID-19 lockdown and employees were either furloughed or working from home, CEO Simon Kidney was determined to maintain engagement despite the physical distance.

Starting with our commitment to a daily vlog sent to all colleagues, a programme of activities began which were designed to support and provide useful activities for employees, whilst keeping them laughing despite the serious circumstances. With these activities and a series of methods to increase communication, the result was an engaged team of colleagues who were able to stay in close contact and feel more prepared for their return to work.

Phased Return to Production

The time had come in April to commence a phased return to production as the demand from customers became evident. Throughout this phased return, employee well-being remained a priority as Head of HSEQ Matt Davies led a robust safety initiative to avoid spreading the virus.

By closely following government advice and maintaining staff engagement, we have been prepared for any changing circumstances as the year went on and legislation changed. Working closely with customers across the country also allowed us to identify their production priorities, which meant we were able to help with outstanding and immediate demand as housebuilders reopened sites.

Wolverhampton Office Refurbishment

Our Wolverhampton based Flooring Midlands site has undergone many changes since the acquisition of National Hickman’s ETFS business in early 2019. Throughout 2020, the office building has received a thorough refurbishment to suit the teams’ working styles and upgrade outdated decoration.

As well as creating an area which has made social distancing possible without compromising collaboration, our maintenance team have worked to create a light space by restructuring rooms and painting. This meant employees could return from furlough and remote working with a new office layout and a working environment that would allow teamwork from a distance.

IOSH Managing Safely®

In March 2020, Robinson Manufacturing were officially approved as an IOSH ‘Managing Safely®‘ course provider, with the initiative led by Head of HSEQ Matt Davies. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is a chartered body and leading membership organisation for safety and health professionals, providing a certificated source of quality health and safety training for the business.

IOSH Managing Safely® provided team leaders with background knowledge of health and safety principles, underpinning how we operate. With 3-day courses involving memorable and thought-provoking facts and case studies, training has been given to team leaders across all sites to emphasise the importance of safety procedures and how the message can be cascaded throughout the business. In addition to IOSH Managing Safely®, Matt has ensured all employees have been given further health and safety training to ensure new employees are equipped with the same knowledge as existing staff.

New Placements with Kickstart

Building on the legacy of our Founder Tim Robinson, Robinson Manufacturing have created 35 vacancies for young people across our various sites on the government’s kickstart scheme. This aims to provide employment opportunities and experience for people aged between 16-24, who are at risk of long term unemployment.

This scheme provides a 6 month placement to give participants an opportunity to gain vital work experience which will equip them for their future career, with support and employability advice provided throughout. With many kickstart placements having begun their new roles from November, we continue to help with their development and hope to fill further vacancies into 2021.

By providing this stepping stone for young people, we aim to promote the value of working in the construction industry and gain interest in RML as an employer, as there may be placements who pursue a permanent role with us past the initial 6 months.

Although 2020 has been a challenging year for all, the resilience and persisting demand from the construction industry is a promising sign for our 2021 operations. Whereas many could have viewed the lockdown as a source of isolation from work, CEO Simon Kidney recognised this opportunity to encourage engagement and maintain communication, which has brought teams from across the UK together as we prepare for the busy year ahead.