I had the pleasure of interviewing Phil Winnington, International Business Director at Morris Site Machinery, leading UK site machinery manufacturer and distributor exporting to 25 countries worldwide. With over 20 years’ experience supporting and supplying the UK and international rental industry, Phil brings his committed and passionate approach with extensive research, sales and marketing experience to the role.

Name: Phil Winnington
Company: Morris Site Machinery
Position: International Business Director

Above all is his passion for driving quality throughout the supply chain and enhancing industry standards to keep British innovation at the forefront.

1. Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

The significance of June 23rd 2016 still resonates with me as the UK came to terms with the decision to Brexit Europe, the immediate impact it had on the value of the pound and trading but also the change in my own personal direction within the business I was then leading as MD.  Prior to the Liam Fox’s (Secretary for State for International Trade) rallying call to British companies to ‘get off their backsides and export’… the Chairman of our family owned business group sat down with me to share a vision for Morris Site Machinery’s international ambitions.  Utilising a weakened pound we would take our British innovations to more markets than ever before to grow our footprint and impact overseas. I became an International Business Director handing over my MD responsibilities to the CEO and took up this mantle of opportunity. 18 months on … exports have risen from 10% of the overall business contribution to over 25% with two overseas clients now featuring in our top 5 overall customers for the first time in the company’s history. Also, we have had our largest sales order ever from Australia for our robust TL90 mobile lighting towers and breakthrough orders from new markets such as UAE and Kenya.

2. Can you share an interesting exporting story that has happened to you since you became a leader or started your company?

Leading the international charge required some standout marketing as well as sales.  This saw me sitting down with the Marketing Director, Katie Morris, and planning the overseas strategy which has provided the springboard for a new way of presenting the business and introducing myself.  Along with Katie, we hatched a professional but fun animation which was to become the focus for prospecting my role, the company and our products in a way which would have universal appeal across the globe.  To see the video follow the link: www.morrismachinery.co.uk/international

‘Animated Phil’ utilised a genuinely integrated approach to communications, opening doors and raising awareness on the website, social platforms, Youtube through to targeted emails.  The character came to life and through humour, we managed to appeal to the broad variety of prospects now on our radar. The approach, and animation specifically, has subsequently been recognised and won the’ Award for Best Use of New Media’ with the Hire Association of Europe.

3. What advice would you give to a founder or CEO who is just starting their exporting journey?

Don’t fear it. It astounds me that only 10% of British companies export and I would encourage more companies to consider it – we have such great quality innovation coming from the UK and there is so much latent respect for UK quality overseas.  There are so many organisations to help – I have worked with the Department of International Trade (DIT), Defence Security Organisation (DSO) and the British Exporters Association (BeXa), Construction Equipment Association (CEA) to name but a few. All of whom have given valuable guidance and advice. To me, however, networking with other like-minded UK partner companies, suppliers and industry associates has been invaluable – this is where you gain those great little nuggets of knowledge which help. I am also a real believer in the power of collaboration, I recently spearheaded the getting together of six UK businesses in related fields to present products and services to the mining industry as one united front under the acronym of Britain’s SEALS (Safety. Environment. Applications. Lighting. Security).  Together we are stronger and we are trialling this concept out in Brazil at present to see if we can achieve cut through as a collective rather than 6 independent approaches.

4. Can you share any stories or examples of how your company is making a difference to others, or how you’re making an influence in your sector?

I am a firm believer that building long-term customer relationships makes all the difference. Appreciating you are dealing with different markets around the world, I never go in with a ‘one product fits all’ approach. Different markets, conditions and cultures demand the flexibility and imagination of a company that can work with the customer to develop bespoke solutions.  With an industry-leading engineering design capability, we have been able to develop products to meet the specific needs of our customers and end users alike eg an extra low voltage lighting tower for Australia for Coates Hire, the largest Australian rental company. The exponential growth of our overseas business is reflected by our growing list of customers and new countries serviced who are looking for these kinds of relationships and customer service.

5. Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 4 Exporting Trends Over The Next 3 Years”

  1. Ongoing Brexit negotiations which impact everything from trade agreements, tariffs, currency fluctuations and general trading relationships.  We currently work with a partnership organisation called EuroGate who represent our products in mainland Northern Europe and they are on the front line of the uncertainty potential customers are feeling on the impact of what the future will bring.
  2. Sustainability – it’s a global movement gathering pace – despite Trump’s US move away from environmental commitment. Regulations trending towards stricter environmental rulings affect the site machinery sector and we already have plans for further greener, cleaner technology.  For example, we have developed both Battery and Solar Hybrid lighting tower models to feed the environment trend. These models support another emerging trend in export – the global move towards reducing oil dependency.
  3. Revitalising economies – watching the trends and economic recovery of some countries around the world. Two contrasting examples are Brazil currently recovering from recession as the eighth largest economy in the world with a predicted 3% growth in its economy, to New Zealand now ranking second on Forbes Best Countries for Business 2018 (which rated 150 nations on 15 different factors including innovation and technology). Both these countries are firmly established on our prospect mapping.
  4. Change in how countries are Doing business – the world is picking up speed in terms of ambitions for economic growth along with a thirst for innovation and technological advancement at a time when there is a growing skills shortage within many of those countries. This is particularly true within the world of engineering with a shortage of young people entering the industry.  Also focus on the manner in which we communicate – it’s so varied on and offline – email, text, WhatsApp, Messenger, phone, social media and of course the good old-fashioned face to face – which blows everything else out of the water when it works! Being mindful of the growing threat of cyber crime and fake news is also centre stage.

6. What are the medium to long-term objectives that you’re focusing on at your company and how will you achieve this?

Our medium to long term objectives are focused on:

Morris Machinery is a member of the British Exporters Association (BExA)