HillsTalk Feb 2016

Hills group expansion success

It has been a busy start to the year for the Hills group of companies with the recent acquisitions of Faab Fabricauto and Dual Metallising. The acquisitions have significantly changed the market position of the business in Western European and other global markets whilst Dual Metallising adds to a growing “niche” product portfolio.

Faab Fabricauto is a leading French manufacturer of vehicle registration plates and signage solutions with two production facilities in Bourgen- Bresse and Mâcon. The business boasts 50-years in the vehicle identification solutions industry with state of the art facilities to produce serigraphy plus number-printing services for automotive, graphic communications, signage and industrial sectors.

Richard Taffinder, Hills Group Managing Director commented “Hills has a long-held desire for international growth within its number plate division and acquisition of Faab Fabricauto makes this ambition a reality.

Hills has a tradition of innovation and has been servicing the UK market since 1927, hence, the opportunity to expand into France and work alongside 3M as our major materials supplier is very attractive. Not only will it deliver a formidable platform for success but generate a combined output by Hills group of companies in excess of 19 million plates per annum.”

New product brochure

Hills are continuously investing to build the best customer experience by creating world class customer service and offering high quality products. A recent innovation to provide extra support to customers is the Hills product brochure. The brochure will include product codes, descriptions and specifications on our best selling products.

This fantastic idea was brain stormed by the Order Entry team who felt that Hills can add more value to a customer’s experience if a document on the product range was available. The brochure will be sent by post in March to all our customers and an online version will be found at www.hillsnumberplates.com.

Dual Metallising

Hills ambitions to diversify the business particularly in niche areas of signage and decorative products lead to the acquisition of Dual Metallising in October 2015. Dual, a vacuum metallising and paint spraying company, was formed in 1982 progressing six years later into plastic injection moulding. Based in Birmingham, equipped with the latest technology and machinery, Dual produce both bespoke and volume items. Such items include headlight enclosures for the likes of Jaguar Land Rover manufactured with plastic injection moulding and finished with vacuum deposition. Priding themselves on high levels of customer service, competitive pricing and a fast turnaround capability, they have built an excellent reputation in the industry.

Left to right; David Hipkiss, General Manager, Peter Franks, Former Managing Director, Richard Taffinder, Hills Group UK Managing Director, Adrian Berry, Sales and Marketing Director

In addition to the new ownership, Dual Metallising welcomes a new General Manager, David Hipkiss. David joins the business from Trinity Press Group of Companies, bringing management expertise and extensive market knowledge, particularly from his previous role as Operations Manager at Guala Closures Group to support the growth of Dual. Alongside David’s appointment Dual Metallising have recently launched a new website, refreshed corporate branding and will focus on marketing activities including social media campaigns. With many clients from the Automotive sector, growth in this arena is high on David’s priority list and the company will be exhibiting at the upcoming Automechanika Show at the NEC, Birmingham in June.

Eyeway Signs at the awards

Eyeway Signs work closely with industry experts and specialist care associations to ensure the team are highly knowledgeable and products are tailored to the market. Acknowledging and rewarding hard work is a subject close to our hearts and we were honoured to attend the recent Hertfordshire Care Providers Association Awards, where Eyeway Signs sponsored the Engagement and Wellbeing Specialist Award.

Eyeway Signs also supported the Hampshire Care Association Awards, sponsoring the Care Home of the Year Award. Shelley Stokes, Account Manager, commented “It was an absolute pleasure to attend the awards and witness the extraordinary lengths people go to, to encourage independent living and provide the best care possible”.

Eyeway Signs outstanding customer service

Eyeway Signs are constantly thriving to improve their products and services to ensure they are custom-made. In December 2015, we conducted a customer service survey. Over 90% of Eyeway Signs customers found the ordering process easy and 100% were happy with customer service and product quality. These results are a testament to the fantastic team at Eyeway Signs and the range of bespoke products that they offer.

Team changes

The recent expansion in our number plate business lead to a few personnel changes for the Eyeway Signs team. Gary Dixon, who supported Eyeway Signs national accounts is moving to Hills Numberplates as National Account Manager and Andy Lynch was recruited as Senior Business Development Manager.

Andy’s vast experience in the signage sector came from his role as Sales Director at Signam, a number plate and signage company. Andy is the key contact for our group accounts and new business opportunities and will manage free site audits.

Winning idea

The UltraTek Racing British GT team have completed a successful first season in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship in a pair of Lotus Evora GT4s. Pitting themselves against some of the best in the UK, the rookie team of Richard Taffinder and Tim Eakin, supported by James Nash and Jamie Wall, made huge strides on their journey from amateur drivers to professional racers.

Star awards

Hills bi-annual Star Awards is a company tradition to award high-achieving colleagues. Votes were cast by the team, counted and announced at Hills on the 17th of December.  Star Awards were won by Zakar Razaq, Business Admin Apprenticeship, Michael Pope, Pack and Dispatch Team Leader and Chris Grainger, Clipping Team Leader. All received luxurious hampers to enjoy over the Christmas holidays with their friends and families.

Hills charity golf tournament

Hills will be hosting a charity golf tournament at the Championship Course, Hawkstone Park near Shrewsbury on Thursday 14th July. Funds raised will be donated to Ronald McDonald House in Birmingham. The charity provides much needed ‘home away from home’ accommodation at specialist children’s hospitals across the UK, giving families the opportunity to maintain a degree of a normal life whilst their children receive medical care. The Golf Tournament will include the main team event, a putting competition and a silent charity auction with some fabulous prizes up for grabs.

Hills got talent

We invest in our employees through a structured training and personal development programme to ensure our team are given opportunities to excel. Zakar Razaq joined Hills in January 2015 as Business Admin Apprenticeship, working in Internal Sales, Sales Support and Accounts to gain a solid understanding of the business. Zakar was quickly flagged as a future talent through his hard work, determination and eagerness to learn.

Zakar has recently been promoted to Business Administrator/PA, working closely with Richard Taffinder to support him with business admin tasks. Richard Taffinder, Group Managing Director, commented: “Zakar’s determination and willingness to learn teamed with his work ethic and passion for the company was flagged by our Human Resource team, he was soon put onto the Hills structured training programme to maximise his skills”.  We would like to congratulate Zakar and wish him all the best in his new role.

Team news

There are new faces, promotions and milestones at Hills with the company growing so are our employees. A very warm welcome to Rajeev Chawdary and Kieran O’Carroll who joined the Accounts team in January 2016.

Congratulations are in order to Nicola Dorman who was promoted to Team Leader in Finished Plates.

Congratulations to Group Sales Director, Adrian Berry, on completing 10 years at Hills on 20th February. Adrian joined the company as an Area Sales Manager in 2006 progressing to his present position.

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