Listen and learn

The UK still holds opportunities for manufacturers prepared to invest and adapt in response to customer demand, says chairman of ACW Technology, Chris Woods
As the company celebrates its 20th anniversary, with Chris at the helm since its inception in 1989, Chris said: Over the next ten years, the UK will remain a viable source of manufacturing expertise for those companies prepared to invest in the right people and equipment and to adapt their services to meet customer demand.
We believe it is the communication we have with our customers that gives us the edge. We listen to what they are saying and understanding what they want. We do what the customer needs rather than telling them what they have to have. ACW has a real willingness to embrace change.
This attitude has stood the company in good stead from the outset, when Woods purchased the struggling manufacturing division of an electronics company in 1989. Re-launching as ACW, Woods and his team spent the next 20 years turning this operation from a loss-making position into the 50m turnover, international business it is today. During this time the company has seen sales increase 50-fold, space 20-fold and employment 15-fold while making a bottom line profit for the last 16 years. The majority of these profits are ploughed back into the company to give it a strong asset base.
Woods has witnessed many changes over the past 20 years. Electronics manufacturing and technology in general has moved on since we started trading but weve always kept one-step-ahead, ensuring we offer customers a reliable and comprehensive service at a competitive price. Over the years weve needed to evolve and adapt our business model to remain competitive and tackle global markets. The positive changes we have put in place in recent years have given us every opportunity to continue our success. Were now taking an overview of ACWs processes and looking at the companys development over the next ten years and beyond.
This year we introduced a new product development (NPD) service, providing customers with a rapid, controlled response to fast turnaround prototype requirements. Working closely with customers design and development personnel, we have put together a dedicated, skilled and experienced team. We have invested in new equipment so that products can go through the processes of design, material benchmarking/purchase, build, test and ship in preparation for a seamless move to volume production at the best possible price in the shortest possible time.
Looking forward, Woods is optimistic for the future. Committed staff, attractive services and flexibility will help us thrive over the next 20 years and beyond. Innovation and providing customers with services and solutions to make their lives easier is essential to the long term success of the UK contract electronics manufacturing and ACW.