HillsTalk Feb 2013

A moment with Richard

We’re already a good way into February and Christmas and New Year celebrations seem like a distant memory. It’s safe to say the weather is nothing if not unpredictable; from enough rain to call Noah out of retirement, to temperatures of -10 and snow, we’ve had it all. It was for conditions like this that we designed MetaTek; with higher tolerance adhesive and an aluminium substrate, it really is the product to defy the elements. You’ll read later on how the product is already taking the UK dealer market by storm and is set for a global roll out in the coming months. As you can imagine, we’re all very proud that all the hard work and investment that has gone into bringing MetaTek to market has paid dividends and delivered such great feedback.

A birdie for Berry

Our very own Adrian Berry recently arranged and ran a charity golf day to celebrate a milestone birthday (and it wasn’t his 40th!) to raise money for a charity close to his heart. The Funny Blood charity does great work around the research of blood disorders in the Worcestershire area and Adrian invited the great and the good of Worcestershire to come and play some golf, have a drink and dig deep to raise much needed funds. As usual, Adrian does nothing by halves and he managed to raise a whopping £1,500 for Funny Blood, an effort worthy of praise. Well done, Adrian!

First class customer service

We talk to hundreds of people a day on the phone, but nobody knows what the faces of our Internal Sales Department look like! We wanted to take this opportunity to put a face to a name – well several faces to several names – and introduce you to the Customer Service team at Hills. The team is overseen by Vicky De La Rue, and use a state of the art system to manage customer records and orders. “We can quickly access any information about your account, past orders and pretty much anything about our customer’s interaction with Hills,” explains Vicky. This means that they have the capacity to focus on the customer service; a style Vicky describes as, “personal but efficient”.

The team is made up of the following, pictured from left to right, Vicky De La Rue, Janet Jarvis, Kate Godwin and Gemma Pettit.

Spotlight on Praveen, Export Administration Manager

Hills has always maintained that its key strength comes from its people. This month we’re taking a look into the life of Praveen Thanki, Export Administration Manager for Hills. Praveen joined Hills in July 2011 into the newly created Export Department. Bringing 30 years’ experience of working in various export roles at Stanley Black & Decker, Praveen’s contributions in setting up of Export Department at Hills have greatly improved customer service levels to our export customers.

Working alongside Chris Glendinning, Praveen is responsible for managing all export orders, from order entry to despatch, including liaison with production and warehouse personnel, in ensuring Hills deliver on time. His proactive approach and high degree of commitment has resulted in heavy involvement in worldwide purchasing of raw materials for Hills. Praveen commented, “I enjoy my work immensely and it gives me a great sense of fulfilment to work with a team of like-minded people. The degree of trust and confidence placed in me gives me a sense of belonging to a family where everyone works toward the goal of making Hills a world class company.”

Process makes perfect

Antony Wilson is our Business Systems Engineer. His role is to manage and maintain all three of the Management Systems we have in place. Hills is unique as it is the only number plate manufacturer in the UK to hold all three of these accreditations. Antony joined the company in 1993 and will reach the 20 years’ service milestone this May! Congratulations, Antony!

The ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System, or QMS for short, ensures that we are continually providing the highest possible standard of products and services to our customers.

From the materials we source through to the products we supply, the QMS also helps us improve year on year and set new targets to continually exceed our already high standards.

From energy use to waste management, the ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management System, better known as the EMS, helps us monitor and limit the impact that our daily operations have on the environment and we have seen huge improvements in our energy efficiency and carbon footprint.

Just one year on from its inception, the OHSAS 18001:2007 Health & Safety Management System has seen a change in the way Health and Safety processes are perceived and we have increased our First Aid provision and training programmes.

We are committed to continually improving all of these systems to ensure that we constantly improve and grow in-line with the ever-developing standards we set for ourselves.

MetaTek update

As many of you are aware, MetaTek is the flagship number plate product offered by Hills. It’s all aluminium construction twinned with the state of the art digital print makes it a superior quality product. Its slick low profile design looks fantastic on any car, plus it is able to cope with the harshest of conditions. Many of our customers are also attracted to its green credentials being 99% recyclable, making it a product to suit the 21st Century.

A key consideration when we developed the product was to make a superior quality number plate, but also be

compatible with all existing Hills Numberplate printing equipment, so there were no costly upgrades or hidden costs. The product can be fixed to a vehicle with many of the normal fixings including our own Hilfix sticky pads and is part of the reason for its rapid roll out across the UK.

In 2013 we expect to produce over two million plates, and it has been embraced by five of the top ten dealer networks in the UK who are now supplying Hills MetaTek as standard to all new vehicles. Adrian Berry, National Sales Manager for Hills commented, “We’ve had a fantastic reception from the top dealers in the UK market. Its widespread adoption has shown us that we’ve developed an industry leading product.”

The Aston Martin GT4 Challenge

Hills are delighted to announce that our very own Richard Taffinder has secured sponsorship to drive in this year’s GT4 Challenge. Piloted by Tim Eakin and our Hills representative Richard, the team has earned their stripes during the past two years in the championship, out qualifying experienced racer Mr Bean (we mean Rowan Atkinson) and 13 other teams at Le Mans last year!

The season starts in April at Silverstone and tours six top UK circuits as well the formidable Spa Francorchamps in Belgium! Richard Taffinder commented, “Tim and I are really looking forward to using our racing program to promote Hills products. Our racing has always been privately funded but we’ve never exploited the promotional opportunity it offers. The car will be totally wrapped in a Hills livery and will really draw a crowd.”

Star spangled footwear

Hills very own Jenna Price has a sparkling new activity keeping her busy. Jenna, in her 4th year with Hills, works in the Material Preparation department by day, and by night specialises in her new found hobby of Strassing. This sees Jenna applying crystals to ladies shoes offering the ultimate in customisation. It all started with work for her friends and family and her client base has now grown. Jenna buys Swarovski crystals and Austrian crystals from a range of sources and can take up to 2 weeks to complete a pair of ladies shoes. Jenna hopes to grow her client base further even targeting celebrities!

Export update

Hills have had a strong year on the export front. It has grown its export activity into seven overseas markets and has gained even more homologations that will allow the export and supply of plates to more markets. Export markets include four key EU countries as well as territories as far away as the Far East. Hills Malaysia, our Kuala Lumpur based subsidiary, opened its doors to business in 2012 and is now installing a number of number plate systems in dealerships throughout Malaysia.

This is a particular milestone as it introduces digital printing technology into the Malaysian market, developed specifically for those countries that use white letters in their plates. The Export team is also proud to announce the sponsorship of our technical professional Adrian Hawley. Hills are sponsoring mature student Adrian in gaining his Doctorate which will in turn help accelerate the homologation of Hills products into the EU market.

Hills Great British Bake Off

The Hills team are getting ready to join in with this year’s Heart FM Have a Heart, ‘Bake A Wish’ appeal. The charity offers deserving children an opportunity to make a wish come true. The Hills effort is being coordinated by Sam Blake and the participants will sell their goodies on a Monday morning for 50p each along with tea and coffee. All proceeds will go to the ‘Bake A Wish’ appeal.

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