|Introduction - Tube Gear Limited (TGL)
The company was started by Mike Grant in 1982. Whilst working for a larger distribution company, Intertruck, Mike identified that airline fittings had the potential to be sold as a consumable rather than being given away. His breakthrough came when he first designed a point of sale packet that would fit the whole range.
Mike then identified that trailer manufacturers were being poorly served by the current direct fitting manufacturers and, after much searching, found a manufacturer who was prepared to work with them (WIRA in Germany). They developed a concept of putting fittings in kits and then converted most trailer manufacturers from compression fittings to the more expensive but easier to use push in fittings at a better margin for TGL.
This initial concept of innovation is the basis for the business model today and the team are always looking at how to provide a better service, better quality, more economical product, or to isolate and gain exclusive access to the next generation of components to sell to the market.
The company developed a market leading catalogue which today has become the industry standard, a “go to” catalogue to solve any air brake fitting or tubing problem.
The company deals with the market leading suppliers and brands and in most cases have agreements for exclusive access to these components. There are attractive offers for the customer base as all supplier ranges can be offered without prejudice which gives the customer the best component for their job rather than just something that suffices from a limited range. Suppliers consistently approach the company at early development stages for advice on new components or ranges. They have found TGL to be a convenient and efficient way to launch and distribute their own components rather than take them to market themselves.
the company is a mature business that has defined market places with a good sense of the needs and wants of each market and how to supply those needs whilst defending the market from competitive influences.
The main market place is supplying air brake fittings and tubing to the truck, heavy vehicle articulated trailer market as well as having a fast developing Public Service Vehicle (PSV) and agricultural vehicle production market places.
The company is in the unique position to supply both ends of the market for the life cycle of a trailer, truck or bus, from supplying the manufacturer at production, or Original Equipment (OE), market, through to supplying the spares distribution After Market (AM) network.
Ian Stanley – Managing Director
As the son of a farmer, Ian spent many years fixing and patching up machinery giving him essential hands on engineering experience. From the age of 18, Ian was in complete charge of the farm whilst his parents went on holiday which gave him a taste for responsibility and pressure.
After leaving education, Ian worked in telesales in the Unipart group for one of its divisions Truck & Trailer Components (TTC), “hard selling” commercial vehicle components. He was promoted to technical sales and then at the age of 22 he acted as Field Sales Representative within an aggressive sales team. Ian joined TGL in 1995 as a Field Sales Representative; He was quickly promoted to Sales and Marketing Manager and then Sales Director and in 2011 headed the management buyout of TGL with his business partner Tony Varndell. Ian has a clear sense of direction, a natural ability to identify business opportunities and the necessary interpersonal skills to lead a team of colleagues and subordinates in the direction he believes the company should be going.
Tony Varndell – Commercial Director
After leaving school Tony started a 5 year engineering apprenticeship with Overlander Trailers. Initially starting at the very bottom Tony progressed through the ranks and became the Company’s Technical Service Engineer.
After 12 years Tony left Overlander and joined M&G Trailers as an Assistant Production Manager. M&G at the time where one of the biggest trailer manufacturers in the UK.
His primary function was managing the fitting shop and the 20 staff that worked in it. Tony worked there for 14 years, until he was offered the opportunity to go back to Overlander Trailers as production director, except this time he was responsible for whole production facility and the 65 production staff working there. A role he excelled in.
Tony worked there for a further 4 years developing his production, man management and business skills. When the owner decided to sell up and move back to Canada, Tony was quickly approached by SDC Trailers, the UK’s biggest trailer builder at the time. Based in Northern Ireland the company had a body assembly plant in Mansfield, and he was offered the job of managing that facility. In total he had over 70 production staff directly reporting to him and had the responsibility for maintaining production output, controlling quality and engineering. Tony worked there for 3 years travelling and living away from home until he was asked to move to Ireland with the intention of managing the main trailer plant but with firm family ties here in the UK, Tony had to turn the offer down.
It was during this period that Tony was approached by Mike Grant MD of Tube Gear Ltd (TGL) who was seeking to employ an industry specialist engineer with a broad scope in manufacturing trailers, whom he needed to develop new and existing products for both TGL and his newly acquired company Vernon Developments.
Tony took the opportunity offered by Mike and hasn’t looked back. Not only has he been able to adapt and use his production knowledge to great benefit to the company, he has also increased his skill base to become proficient in areas such as procurement, quality management systems and accounting.
Tony’s main strengths include varied industry specific manufacturing experience and the in-depth knowledge of the industry he’s grown up in, and people that work in it enabling him to build up a wide and varied number of contacts in the truck & trailer industry.
Over the years Tony has developed excellent man management skills, fostering cooperation and getting results from those that work with him as part of a team.
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