Dakin-Flathers | CommonwealthFirst | World Champion in SME Support

Dakin-Flathers – Third Cohort Export Champion


Industrial saw and knife blades

Location: West Yorkshire
Company website: www.dakin-flathers.com
Sectors: Manufacturing

Dakin-Flathers are the largest manufacturer of ‘carbon’ bandsaw and bandknife blades in the world, with over 125 years of saw manufacturing experience. The company’s products can be found in a huge range of industries, including primary processing of timber, furniture production, engineering, and food preparation.

Dakin-Flathers remains a privately owned, family-run business, based in purpose built 24-hour production facilities in Featherstone, West Yorkshire, with a commitment to delivering exceptional products and service at the heart of their operation. Distributors, machine manufacturers and end-users around the globe are given the products and support they need to help win more orders and to gain more market share.

Thanks to their focus on product quality and performance, Dakin–Flathers has grown from being the leading supplier in the UK to one of the leading suppliers in the world for bandsaw and bandknife blades, exporting to over 100 countries with an unrivalled worldwide reputation for quality, performance and service.

Moving forward, Dakin-Flathers are looking to exploit market gaps for its food and foam processing blades where innovative technical developments are opening up new opportunities.

CommonwealthFirst looks forward to supporting Dakin-Flathers in capitalising on these opportunities, particularly in key target markets including South Africa, India, Canada and New Zealand.


Apply now to become an Export Champion.

Paul Greenley, Sales Director

Paul Greenley, Sales Director

How did you hear about the CWF programme and what made you apply?
From a participant of cohort 2. They were complimentary about the program and were extremely proud to have been selected to participate. Whilst we are an experienced and effective exporter, with existing business in the Commonwealth, there are areas where we could and should do better. We have some exciting new products coming on stream over the next year or so and anything we can do to accelerate our penetration of these markets would be extremely helpful.

What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Finding good distributors in new markets. Once identified, convincing them to turn their back on often longstanding relationships with our competitors. In some cases, having the right product for the local market. Cultural differences can also be a strong factor – understanding how to conduct business in an appropriate way.

What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your business?
Recruit well and train well. Invest in all aspects of the business –people, machines and process.

What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
Help and support in finding the right partners more quickly for new market and we look forward to being an active participant in trade missions.

What is a typical working day for you?
Starts in the pool or on my bike and finishes in a similar way! I try to keep a healthy work life balance too so 10hr day is pretty typical. Tend to let my smartphone erode my evening though – difficult not to when dealing with customers around the world

Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
We have a simple general target which is to double every 5 years. Our current 5 yr plan has nearly 3 years to go but it’s not all about the money. As the business grows, we have the challenge of growing without losing the essence of what makes our company great and a great place to work.

What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Recruit well and train well and if you can, have a truly engaging vision/reason for being – not just a numerical target. Make sure that your systems, people and processes keep pace with your growth, or they will become a barrier to growth!

How are your bandsaw and bandknife blade products unique?
We have the widest product range for our sector, which allows us to support our partners fully. In addition, several of our products offer a performance advantage which results in our partners winning and retaining business at the expense of their competitors. Generally though, we are just very good at what we do. Consistent high quality of product and service allows our partners to run their businesses efficiently and with confidence.

How do you ensure that you remain competitive?
Operational excellence is a key core competence and value of our business. We are committed to Lean Manufacturing and 6 sigma approaches and use these to drive both efficiency and quality improvements. We also recruit well and with an eye on the future and invest heavily in training and new equipment.

Do you have any exciting products/projects in the pipeline?
Blades for the food industry and the PU Foam industry (our Freshcut37 and Slicer37 ranges respectively) offer massive potential for Dakin-Flathers to grow around the World. Work is ongoing across Dakin-Flathers’ engineering, operations and commercial teams to finalise products and strategy that will allow us to replicate the huge success we have achieved in our more mature markets.

This interview was conducted as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. Apply now to become an Export Champion.