Growing in style

Offering a broad spectrum of chemical solutions, Rutpen is aiming to complete its four-year investment programme in 2019, which will extend the company’s capacity and set it up for a steady long-term growth

Continuity has become synonymous with Rutpen during the nearly 50 years of the company’s existence. Having grown into one of Europe’s leading contract manufacturers of liquid, powder, and solvent blends, the business has never lost sight of its original aim of providing high-quality service to the chemical industry. “We have multiple USPs that have enabled our growth over the years, but, first and foremost, I have to single out our exceptional engineering capabilities, without which we would not be able to stand out. We have assembled a really strong team of engineers who work very quickly, thus facilitating our fast response to emerging market needs,” begins Managing Director, Dave Roberts.

The ability to offer a vast array of products represents another key driver of Rutpen’s success. “Unlike other contract manufacturers, we are not afraid to work with flammables or other hazardous chemicals. we can produce both liquids and powders and do not restrain ourselves to specialising in just one type of product,” Dave points out. “To give you an example of our capabilities, we have worked closely with a client on the production of Briwax – a natural wax for wood, of which we produce a million of units every year. They came to us about 12 years ago after an emergency, looking for someone to manufacture a product, which involved dealing with the complexities of melting waxes into flammable solvents. We were able to come up with a manufacturing solution in about eight weeks, which was a really impressive outcome, given the challenging nature of the project.

“The slightly easier end of what we do is the provision of tight, just-in-time service on a B2B basis. So, for example, we can get a two days’ notice from a large manufacturer for the delivery of 28 tonnes of bespoke products, and we have organised the business in a way that allows us to address such requirements,” he explains, adding that Rutpen has even developed its own fleet of bespoke tanker vehicles. “We have realised that the price and the quality of the product have to be right, but the customer service needs to be absolutely spot-on every time.

I am convinced that this is an aspect we have always been very good at, and the confirmation to this claim is the fact that we very rarely lose clients, which is an incredible feat for a contract manufacturer.”

While service and quality have always been at the highest level throughout Rutpen’s history, the company has set out to market itself better and polish its outward appearance in the past five years, in order to attract potential customers’ attention more easily. “Up to this time, we were not flying our own flag very much and perhaps we did not quite understand how valuable our support actually is to our clients. This is why we have recently focused heavily on marketing activities and changing the way in which we talk to people and explain what we do. We have tried to combine the positive aspects of a small business with those of a successful SME model, and retain the right ethos all along. No company is perfect, but we have the courage to admit it if we have made a mistake and this is the kind of philosophy we are pushing forward – it is not about the error, but about communicating it clearly to the client and putting it right,” Dave reasons.

Rutpen’s attempts to raise brand awareness have been underpinned by the implementation of an investment strategy that projects spending up to £1 million every year for a period of four years. Dave elaborates: “It was a decision we took at board level that saw us commit to pulling the business into a medium-sized position, with regards to how it looks, how it performs, and how it handles its health and safety and environmental responsibilities. We have invested both in developing our site infrastructure and hiring new people, with the idea of preparing the company to flourish without restriction for the next ten to 20 years.”

In some of its more significant investments, Rutpen bought new road tankers in 2016 to strengthen its fleet and began the construction of a new 2000-pallet warehouse this year, which is expected to be commissioned early in 2019. Additionally, the company has installed three 200,000-litre interceptors to attenuate site rainfall. “Recently, we also acquired a new business and installed production facilities for silicone grease and powdered antifoam. The move constitutes a promising opportunity for us, because it means that we can now sell finished products, instead of just tolling for other companies,” Dave comments. “We have also taken on two new graduates who joined the business in the last two years. I feel it is important to recruit youngsters, because they are always full of fresh ideas and keen on putting their mark on the company. For this reason, we have to take them and their training seriously and provide them with the space to grow and prove their value.

“Going into 2019, we hope to conclude this stage of our investment programme, which will result in a 60 per cent increase of our capacity. After that, we will concentrate on growingour sales to return the investment we will have made. I am confident that, despite the uncertainty around Brexit, new possibilities will rise for contract manufacturers like us in the coming years. We have always found change in the business environment to present opportunities for contractors, so we have to remain optimistic and use our chances to take the business to the next level,” Dave concludes.

Products: Liquid, powder, and solvent blends