Gott Technical Services, a company based in the North East of England will be hoping to maintain its position as one of the market leaders in motor equipment suppliers this year.
I recently caught up with director, Ian Gott as we spoke about how he got involved in the business and how he has managed to grow the business so far.
Can you give you some background information about yourself, were you the entrepreneurial type growing up?
I was quite a thinker rather than a doer as a child, but I always wanted to find easier and better ways of doing things. I suppose some might say I took the easy route to a career by joining my father’s business but I joined it when it was in its infancy so I enjoyed the buzz of seeing something new take shape. I joined because the company needed a stores and purchasing system to be set up and I offered my services to develop this.
Once this was running smoothly I looked for the next challenge and volunteered to go out selling for the company. After these early bursts of enthusiasm, there was a long period where I was simply ‘following in my father’s footsteps’ but as I matured I refocused and set myself goals to achieve personal success within the business. I often think I have lived my life in reverse compared to most people because I have become more enthusiastic, energetic, innovative and demanding as I have got older.
Tell me how Gott Technical Services came about?
My father was sales manager for an industrial lubrication equipment manufacturer, when he decided he could do a better job, he went off and did it on his own. With agreement from his employers he left and set up Gott Technical Services as a distributor of the product range for which he had previously been sales manager.
In the early years the company’s target market was mining companies that worked at the open cast coal mines in Northumberland, various industrial and manufacturing companies and farming businesses. Basically, any company that required pumping and compressed air equipment to maintain mechanical plant and machinery. I then recognised our products and services could be useful to the vehicle repair trades and started to target these markets with my sales activity, developing and growing our product range to suit.
What is Gott Technical Services?
A family based business, based in the North East of England that supplies, installs and maintains garage workshop equipment.
Why vehicle maintenance equipment?
Our involvement with these products grew from our involvement with industrial lubrication equipment. Not many people know what garage equipment is but it is an essential part of everyday life.
Our equipment is used to keep refuge vehicles, fire tenders, ambulances, police cars, school buses, army vehicles, supermarket delivery vehicles and family cars maintained and on the road. Our MOT test equipment checks that vehicles are safe and meet environmental legislation.
What would you say was the hardest part of taking over your family business?
Trying to establish my own identity and authority and make my parents feel safe knowing that the business can run effectively without them.
How have you been able to fund taking the business forward?
We have always had great support from our bank and over the years we have received funding from Business Link and more recently the North East Growth Fund to support the business growth.
Would you say the initial idea for the company, or that the business model has changed since the company was founded?
The original goal was to distribute industrial lubrication and compressed air equipment and as such our target markets were open cast coal sites and manufacturing industries. With the decline of these industries in the area it was necessary to expand our range of products and services and grow into the automotive market.
In recent years, with the onset of recession, we knew our clients would have less money to spend on the purchase of capital equipment but also knew they would need to keep their equipment maintained. We grew our business by listening to our clients’ needs and developing packages to suit their requirements.
What would you say Gott Technical Services does differently from other vehicle maintenance equipment suppliers out there?
We are straightforward, honest people who take the time to find out exactly what our customers want and we give genuine advice - simple as that. There are so many equipment suppliers and maintenance providers who do not find out enough about their customers’ problems so do not necessarily provide the right solution.
Whilst we have a preferred product line and established maintenance packages, we are prepared to tailor these to suit our customers’ requirements. Many of our competitors seem to think the only way to get business is to supply the cheapest products possible but we believe in supplying value for money products. We do not sell the cheapest products because these will be unreliable or will not last very long. Despite this country’s economic downturn in recent years we continue to grow our business through recommendation because we are known for supplying high quality, reliable equipment.
How big is your team now?
There are twenty-one of us.
What would you say has been some of the most crucial achievements that you've done to build the company to this level now?
The key achievements that I have made since taking over the business are, assembling a strong team, securing funding for growth, securing contracts with most local authorities, emergency services and national garage groups.
As well as securing distribution agreements for market leading products and ensuring that all our engineers are accredited to the latest trade and health and safety standards.
What is your business model?
Sell high quality products at competitive prices, whilst providing a first class aftersales service.
Is the business profitable?
What’s been your most memorable moment so far on your entrepreneurial journey?
Various contract wins, as well as taking the business from being ‘one of many’ to being the recognised market leader in the North East of England and establishing a national presence.
What pieces of advice could you give to aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
I’d say, be decisive. Go with your gut instinct. Genuinely care about people – both staff and customers. Have a clear plan and set stretching goals.
What can we be expecting from you and Gott Technical Services in the future?
Continued expansion and the introduction of new products and services.