Each month we will be showcasing Export Champions as part of the CommonwealthFirst Export Champion interview series. The collection of interviews over the coming months will allow you to get to know our Export Champions better, gain some insight to the challenges faced by UK SMEs, as well as the sharing of valuable business start-up advice.
For the month of January we hope you enjoy reading interviews from Knowledge Management & Transfer, Avon Barrier, Aduna and Hive Education.
How did the idea for your company come about?
We have been going for nearly 30 years so it is more evolution than anything else but we do have a desire to provide solutions for some of the world’s worst problems and feel proud to be able to provide protection (albeit limited0 against terrorist attacks.
What difficulties have you encountered setting up your business?
Cashflow has always been the issue whether it is expanding or contracting.
What are the biggest trade and export challenges you face?
Time to identify real opportunities and then be able to focus on them, inviting the world into your business creates a lot of traffic.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow and develop your company?
Become a genuinely international company, we are not a UK exporter so much as an International Business with its head office in the UK. Getting the mindset right for the business is critical to succeed in the international arena.
What has been your most exciting project so far?
We designed and installed the vehicle toll plaza’s on the Jamuna Bridge Project in Central Bangladesh some years ago, the project was described locally as the Miracle of the Jamuna Bridge
Have you been able to measure how effective the Avon Barrior products are?
We undertake testing against vehicle impact (7500kg at 80kph) as well as ballistic testing to BR6 and BR7 and blast testing (100kg explosives).
How did you hear about the CommonwealthFirst programme and what made you apply?
UKTI local rep was told about the initiative and passed the details to us to apply, we already work internationally and certainly with Commonwealth members so the fit seemed right.
What are you hoping to get out of the CWF programme?
We hope to be able to contribute some of our experience as well as take out some of the international links.
What is a typical working day for you?
Start at 8.30 finish at 7.00 and then the usual continuous email / WhatsApp / text streams out of hours
Where would you like your business to be in 5 years time?
We will be the biggest in our specialist market and the market leader in physical protection against terrorist attacks.
What advice would you give to anybody looking to set up an SME?
Be prepared to live and breath the business and ensure that you employ good calibre younger staff that you can (and must) delegate to. The right calibre must be able to mirror your own work ethic.
Is there anything exciting you would like to share?
We are working on a major high profile European project at present but we cannot explain further as most of our projects need to remain confidential.