Delve into CHH Conex’s journey as a multifaceted smart connectivity solutions provider 

At the forefront of connectivity innovation stands CHH Conex Ltd (CHH), a leading provider of bespoke cable assemblies and integrated cabinets, as well as managed services that support field engineers. Through its steady focus on smart connectivity solutions and sustainability, CHH leads the charge in sectors vital to our future, including smart metering, fiber to the home, electric vehicles (EV), nuclear, solar, rail, and industrial automation. Today, the company is divided into two distinct divisions: warehousing & logistics and design, engineering & manufacturing. Focusing on the design, engineering & manufacturing side of the business, Paul Turner, CEO, provides us with an overview of CHH’s operations throughout its history. 

“Originally operating as a cable assembly manufacturing company, CHH was established in 1990 in Birmingham. Our first customer was Avery Berkel Ltd, an industrial weighing scales manufacturer based in the West Midlands. Between the 1990s and early 2000s, CHH shifted towards telecommunications, serving clients such as Marconi, Ericsson, and Nokia. Additionally, we worked with select private equity-backed companies, including Patientline, which strived to provide bedside televisions for the NHS at a time where mobile phones and tablets were prohibited within its hospitals. CHH was in charge of designing, engineering and manufacturing the televisions, as well as all of the repair and maintenance which proved to be a significant venture spanning several years. Subsequently, we expanded our services to include box build projects for data storage manufacturers in Ireland, thereby transitioning from mere cable assembly manufacturing to software development and electronic box build. 

“Whilst maintaining our cable assembly production, we have also developed our expertise in cabinet manufacturing which not only encompasses metalwork but also electronic integration for markets such as fiber to the home, telecommunications and water. As a result, the design, engineering and manufacturing business of CHH has experienced significant growth, doubling its revenue in 2023. Liz Scott, our Managing Director of Design, Engineering and Manufacturing, along with her team achieved this milestone. Going forward, our outlook is very positive. We have recently invested in a fully refurbished manufacturing facility spanning over 20,000 square feet in Birmingham, dedicated solely for Liz’s division. This move not only gives Liz and her team more autonomy by having their own space, but also allows for the expansion of our Managed Services Division into the space previously occupied by manufacturing,” he begins. 

Continuing the topic of CHH’s new facility, Liz and Paul describe its capabilities as well as its role within the company’s operations. “Back when we were still part of CHH’s larger building, our space was limited. This stifled our growth potential and reached a point where we realized we would have to turn down work if we didn’t expand our manufacturing space. Fortunately, an adjacent building became available for renovation. Seizing the opportunity, COO Cory McFarlane had the idea to expand into this space. Thus far, the move has proven successful, as it has given us the bandwidth to continue to grow. Our new work environment is clean and inviting, impressing our customers who had previously visited the older facility,” Liz informs. 

“The new facility features state-of-the-art lighting and solar panels on the roof, aligning with our sustainability strategy, which is very important to us at CHH. Notably, Liz spearheaded our ISO 14001 certification, reflecting a genuine commitment to environmental responsibility extending beyond rhetoric as we have a strategy and action plan in place. We have recently invested in expanding our maintenance capabilities, increasing our ability to innovate and offer bespoke engineered solutions. Additionally, we have acquired new state of the art equipment and implemented 3D modeling technology. To further bolster our team, we have initiated two sales apprenticeships in partnership with Pareto, an organization specializing in early-career, graduates, and non-graduates sales training. This apprenticeship program spans 12-to-15 months, with about 20-to-25 percent of it focusing on the academic aspects of sales. During this time, participants gain hands-on experience as young sales professionals within our company. In tandem with this initiative, we have outsourced lead generation to our partners at Flowd to ensure a constant stream of leads for these growing sales professionals to follow up,” adds Paul. 

Elaborating further on the nature of CHH’s services, Paul explains how the company’s versatility as a solutions provider gives it a major competitive edge. “As the government opened up regulations, alternative network providers became a new source of revenue for CHH. CHH manufactures, installs, and integrates electronic street-side cabinets for several of them. Rather than simply offering products, CHH acts as a solutions provider in telecommunications specializing in designing and engineering solutions. In addition, our Managed Services division is starting to win business with these alternative network customers as well with their solutions around warehousing and logistics creating synergies between the two businesses. It is important to note that CHH operates across diverse verticals like telecoms, fiber to the home, nuclear, rail, smart metering, EV, solar and industrial automation. While telecoms is less stringent and more price-sensitive, sectors like rail and nuclear are difficult to penetrate due to rigorous approvals. CHH’s advantage over our competitors lies in our extensive engineering capabilities, enabling us to excel in terms of quality and technical support across all these sectors. Moreover, our experience in challenging markets like rail and nuclear truly sets us apart and showcases our level of expertise,” he emphasizes. 

Before discussing CHH’s ambitious plans for the future, Paul reveals the factors that facilitated the company’s impressive growth. “I believe the turning point was when Cory and I acquired the company in March 2022. Initially, CHH operated as a single entity, but we made a significant change by separating the businesses within it. This move brought more transparency, revealing that the manufacturing side of the business was underperforming. To address this, we created a new dedicated team, led by Managing Director, Liz Scott who brought valuable expertise and passion for the Design, Engineering and Manufacturing side of the business. We spent significant time, money and effort in an area that had been neglected for years because CHH’s Managed Service division was growing so rapidly. Therefore, I think this shift in our focus led us to put more emphasis on our existing customer relationships, grow our share with them, as well as develop new customer acquisition strategies all of which contributed to CHH’s Design, Engineering and Manufacturing division’s impressive growth,” he unveils. 

“We are committed to continuing our growth in our manufacturing division. In addition, with our Managed Services division, we aim to capitalize on emerging markets such as EV and solar. When it comes to Liz’s business, alongside cabinet and cable assembly manufacturing, we’re exploring strategic options within the break/fix and repair sectors, aligning to our sustainability strategy with particular emphasis around product lifecycle management. Examples of this would be expanding our offering for street-side cabinets. With many of these cabinets requiring enhanced locking devices and replacement batteries as just two examples, we now offer field service support for these types of needs to our customers,” he ends. 

CHH believes passionately in UK manufacturing and will continue to invest the required resources to continue on the growth path it has embarked on, and be a true solutions partner to its customers.