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The lowdown on leading storage manufacturers Bott.

In 1930 Mr Wilhelm Bott opened a small mechanical workshop in an old mill in the German town of Gaildorf, which is about an hour’s drive from Stuttgart. Little did he realise that 85 years later the business would be a world superpower in the workplace and vehicle storage markets.

For this issue of Work-It we spoke to Bott’s Mandy Bickle to find out how the company adapted during the recession, beat the floods of 2014 and is now helping Bentley to be a success on the racetrack.

What is the secret of Bott’s success?
Ultimately, our success is down to us producing the best storage products on the market, from workshop benches and tool cupboards to van and vehicle storage. Our products are high quality, value for money and we combine this with our meticulous attention to detail and an excellent standard of service.

How big is Bott today?
It can be overwhelming to think how the company has grown from such humble beginnings into a global company that employs 750 people worldwide and has a turnover of more than €80 million. The group is still based at Gaildorf but we now also have production plants at Bude in Cornwall and in Hungary. We also work with licensed partners and distributors such as Slingsby and importers across the globe.

How do the three production plants vary?
We actually manufacture the same product designs across all our production facilities so each one is quite similar. Manufacturing locally means we can be flexible and offer multi colour options, custom configurations and bespoke products on short lead times. Having more than one production facility also gives us a contingency if logistical problems occur such as the recent floods in the South West of England.

Was Bott affected by the floods?
Yes, for several weeks Bude was battered by high tides that breached the town’s sea defences as well as heavy rain and strong winds that brought parts of our supply chain to a standstill. However, we were able to maintain a good level of customer service and production as we keep very high levels of stock and raw materials on site.

What are the most popular products in your range?
Both our complete systems remain extremely popular. Bott is the only manufacturer to offer two complete systems, Bott cubio – the heavy duty, high capacity system with a wide variety of sizes and options, and Bott verso which we launched in 2009. This is a medium duty range with lower weight capacities and price points.

Was the recession part of the reason you launched the verso range?
Yes, as the recession hit, we responded by creating a lower priced Bott system that is particularly popular with smaller businesses and new markets in lighter duty environments.

And did it prove to be a good decision?
Definitely. These new markets and customers mean verso sales now make up half of our overall product sales in the UK.

How do you ensure that customers buy the right products for their individual requirements?
We understand that equipping a new workshop can be a large investment so our partners like Slingsby offer a full range of 2D or 3D drawings and an installation service as well as extensive consultancy advice.

What types of organisations ask for consultancy advice?
Often customers with very specific or specialist requirements want reassurance that they are definitely buying the best product for the job. For example, we recently supplied a Bentley racing team with a range of storage products and mobile cabinets that they use in their workshops and on race days during the British GT Championships. Motorsport is all about careful planning and organisation so a smart and efficient workspace is critical and our products enable them to achieve this.

Finally, what new products are on the horizon?
It is too early to reveal details but we have some very exciting launches planned towards the end of the year. Our development departments are constantly working on new and innovative solutions, focusing on creating better working environments, efficient working and user safety. Generally product development is led by customer feedback, market demands and rigorous testing processes which ensures that our storage solutions and products always stand the test of time.

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