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An interview with Andy Horsford, UK Regional Sales Manager at Atexor Ltd.Posted on: 15.10.2019
We caught up with Andy Horsford, who has been with Atexor for nearly 18 months. In the interview, Andy discusses his role as Regional Sales Manager and when selling Atexor products, he does so with Integrity. Andy also details how the Atexor ‘family’ across the UK and Finland, stay in good contact to ensure successful results.
You’ve been at Atexor for nearly 18-months, tell us about your background.
Prior to getting into Sales I was a Carpenter for 10 years which I loved. I used to specialise in property refurbishment projects for several developers and have done up a few properties of my own too. After moving to Norfolk from Sussex, I worked on large construction site projects which was all about quantity not quality. It was on one of these sites I injured my knee and following the surgery I made the decision to look at an alternative career.
When I finished up as a Carpenter, I initially went into selling construction materials for a Regional Builders Merchants and then moved into the Industrial Workwear and PPE sector for Europe’s largest workwear services provider.
Why did you choose to work with Atexor?
I really enjoy supporting a customer with their challenges, especially when it involves safety. When I was researching about Atexor, it was clear that safety and quality are their key principles. I also like the technical aspects of the products I sell, and it was evident that Atexor have an exceptional product range for the Ex-lighting sector.
On the day I secured my interview I’d been snowed in during the Beast from the East and took it as an omen considering Atexor are from Finland.
When I met with Derek and Johannes for my interview, it was clear that this was a company with a focus on putting the customer first and ensuring the best solution is found.
I was also impressed with the efficient process structure Atexor operate, and the strong emphasis that Atexor have on supporting their staff. Since my arrival I’ve been welcomed by everyone at the company, from the Directors to the Production team – working at Atexor really does feel like you’re part of a family!
Can you describe a typical day as the UK Regional Sales Manager?
As the UK Regional Sales Manager my focus is on our customers.
A typical day will involve:
- responding to email enquiries,
- speaking with customers about project specifications and technical queries
- liaising with the Atexor Technical and Operations teams on customer projects
- preparing customer proposals
- meeting with customers and learning about their requirements to enable me to prepare detailed customer specific solutions
Everything we do is to ensure our customers are provided with the best solution available which meets their specific project needs.
What’s been your proudest achievement in this role so far?
I’d been at Atexor for a few months and we had been successful with an order for a significant number of SLAM Hornets and our SLAM Splitters for a SNS Offshore project. We had to provide a bespoke specification in order to offer the optimum solution for the customer. This was quickly communicated to our operations and production departments at our factory in Seinäjoki and due to the agile nature of Atexor was easily achieved and delivered comfortably inside the deadline set out by the customer.
The proudest part of this achievement was when I returned to the customer for a review meeting once the project had been completed. It was my first opportunity to gain direct customer feedback on the performance of our products. I was told that the state they were returned in, they expected half of them to be written off. However, once they’d been cleaned and checked, not a single fitting failed their checks and tests.
It’s one thing being told how good our products are by our own people, it’s great hearing it directly from the end user!
When selling Atexor products to potential clients, what would you say are the biggest selling points?
Honestly, the overall quality of our products. Our products have to be fit for purpose, and they have to endure extremely harsh environments. I’m often challenged with customers advising that our products better be tough because if they can be broken, they will be.
I’ve witnessed the robustness of first-hand having launched a SLAM Hornet across the factory car park during my induction last summer.
Being based south of the UK, what would you say is the biggest difference between the requirements of the South North Sea (SNS) and the North Sea (NS) for ATEX / EX-lighting?
The North Sea is one of the world’s oldest producing hydrocarbon basins, contributing to the British and European economies for 50 years. There definitely seems to be a difference in the projects supported from the Aberdeen area to those further south out of the East Anglia and South-East regions. The supplier agreements that operate in Aberdeen are not replicated down south which leads to a lot of competition for any SNS enquiry. In addition to that, the East Anglia region in particular appears to be developing a renewable energy focus with companies setting up operating and support functions in the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft areas, in some cases replacing their Oil & Gas presence. Whilst this transition can create uncertainty in the short term, the long-term future of renewable energy is assured and the UK is certainly taking a lead on this sector which is great.
Having come into Atexor from outside the Oil & Gas sector, I’ve also focused on the numerous other opportunities that require Ex-lighting in order to perform their activities, such as Engineering, Aerospace and construction.
How does the UK market differ to Finland’s?
The UK certainly doesn’t have the same extreme of temperatures. On my various trips to the factory in Seinäjoki I’ve experienced both -15oC and +35o No darkness and also 5 hours of daylight!We supply our products globally, using distributors where required and also engaging directly with customers. Our Customer Specific Solutions team operate out of Finland and will engage with large scale projects for Fixed Ex-lighting solutions primarily. The UK at present is more focused on temporary and portable Ex-lighting solutions.
Our newest product has really seen the support and communication aspect of both Atexor Oy and Atexor Ltd come together. The SEMIC was developed for a specific solution for a customer in the far east, but we are now engaged with several customers throughout Europe on alternative specifications.
With offices across Finland and the UK, how do you keep good communication links?
Good communication is vital in what we do to ensure the company maximise the opportunities in our sector. The time difference with Finland is only 2 hours and so although geographically distant we’re never that far away from each other.
We hold regular Teams meetings with the full Atexor Sales team to cover market trends, sales opportunities, projects, marketing and technical developments within our product range. In addition to this, technical support is available at the end of the phone whenever it’s required and is one of the huge benefits Atexor have, with so much experience and Ex-lighting expertise within the company.
We also have a WhatsApp group which is often used to alert the team of any success stories or if someone requires some technical assistance urgently. It’s also a great tool to share articles related to customer projects and potential opportunities, and also the more informal and social matters such as Ice Hockey world championship results!
Finally, how to you unwind after a busy day after work?
I love spending my spare time with my family. Our daughter will be 8 soon and is starting to learn languages so I’m having to brush up on my French and German. We also have 4 Pugs – Munchkin, Pugwash, Perry and Hugo – which can be a handful but is good fun too. Three of them are rescues via Pug Welfare and it’s always nice to welcome them into our family and providing them with a happy home after the hardships they’ve endured.
I’m also a big sports fan, and my teams are all doing exceptionally well this season. Obviously, I was delighted with England winning the Cricket World Cup in the summer and with Liverpool top of the Premier League, the New England Patriots reigning NFL champions and currently undefeated so far this season and Lewis Hamilton leading the F1 championship weekends are most enjoyable at the moment.