By Denise M. Roberts
Fairey Industrial Ceramics Limited
Lower Milehouse Lane
Newcastle Under Lyme
Staffordshire ST5 9BT
Tel: +44 (0) 1782 66 44 30
Tim Evans, Business Development Executive, spent the first 11 years of his career in the UK Headquarters of a ceramics research institute and gained experience working with a wide range of technical ceramic products, concentrating on air and liquid filtration technology specifically. Moving into the commercial arena during this period, he gained additional experience selling a variety of products and services both to UK and overseas markets. Evans has remained in export sales roles for multinational manufacturers, where he has supported a diverse range of international distributors to achieve their goals of new market entry and increasing their sales and market share in existing markets. In 2008, he brought his extensive experience in ceramics and export distributor management to Fairey Industrial Ceramics Limited (FICL), taking over responsibility for a number of export markets, including North America.
FICL is the sole manufacturer of the world famous range of Doulton® and British Berkefeld® ceramic drinking water filters. Customers range from multi-nationals and big box retailers to aid agencies, water cooler companies, small companies and water professionals. To service the needs of these diverse customers, FICL has an established world-wide distribution network with regional sales managers based in various key territories around the globe.
Evans works closely with Doulton® distributors, providing commercial teams with training workshops to enhance their product knowledge and understanding of filtration technology. He travels regularly to meet with them to discuss and support growth strategies and work on sales and marketing promotions. “We are proud to offer enhanced, tailor-made support to our North American dealers,” said Evans. “Our recent new media promotion is the beginning of an ongoing marketing strategy to provide additional support to our North American distribution network. Alongside new wholesale prices in the market, we are committed to offering speedy dispatch on a wide range of our products and to ensuring that increased stocks of Doulton® water filters are held in the US.”
A long history
Doulton® water filters have now been manufactured continuously in the UK for more than 185 years. In the 19th century, the River Thames was London’s main water supply… and sewer. Henry Doulton discovered that filtering water through a porous ceramic could stop people becoming sick from cholera and other water-borne diseases. “Queen Victoria was an early and long-standing Doulton® customer,” Evans noted. “The technology has come on a long way since those days, but Doulton’s principles still remain at FICL today: to produce clean, healthy, great tasting water, anytime, anywhere.”
FICL is part of a wider UK technical manufacturing group, which is privately owned. All Doulton® and British Berkefeld® ceramic water filter products are manufactured in FICL’s factory based in North Staffordshire, UK, the traditional home of the ceramic industry in England. Millions of ceramic filter candles are produced annually, which are sold in 140 countries worldwide. From an office block to a refugee camp, Doulton® and British Berkefeld® filters provide people with drinking water that they can enjoy and trust. All stages of FICL’s drinking water filter production process adhere to the stringent BS EN ISO 9001 quality standards. FICL holds the coveted NSF® and WRAS certificates, demonstrating that its drinking water filters have passed the highest international testing standards.
The company manufactures a range of POU drinking water filtration systems for the home, suitable for any kitchen. FICL has ambitious plans for the next five years in terms of sales growth driven by product development and brand building. “The way to achieve such goals is to provide the consumer with a great value proposition and give the right support to local distribution partners who are similarly driven to succeed,” said Evans. “We have already invested heavily in our manufacturing plant to increase capacity, improve efficiency and support growth. Our program of investment in product and brand development is also well underway. We have many trusted distribution partners around the globe with whom we have worked for many years and look forward to continuing to support for many years to come. However, we are also always happy to hear from new potential partners who share our ambition and are keen to join the Doulton® team.”
In addition, FICL is heavily involved in philanthropic endeavors around the world, with many notable agencies. “FICL supplies gravity water filters to over 50 Aid Agencies and NGO’s around the globe, including UNICEF, Red Cross, Oxfam and the Peace Corps,” said Evans. “Our ceramic filtration systems are designed for emergency response as well as for use in short, medium and long term humanitarian relief situations such as refugee camps, natural disaster zones, and community development programs. Recent projects in which our filters continue to play an important role include UN-Habitat’s slum regeneration project in Kenya, Lifewater’s community projects in Haiti and Tanzania, and various projects in Afghanistan. We are proud that our products are helping to achieve the aims of the Millennium Development Goals and have taken great pleasure in supporting drinking water projects with product and donations in numerous parts of the world.”
Challenges and the future
In a difficult economy, some manufacturers try to cut costs and end up cutting quality. “This is very short-sighted,” Evans said. “Consumers and dealers see through that in an instant. Compromising your brand name in such a way is the worst thing you can do. The quality of a good product always shines through. We work hard to ensure that Doulton® presents the consumer with a good value proposition of brand, quality, performance and price.”
The Doulton®, British Berkefeld® and Fairey® brand names are well known and respected around the world. On occasion, this has made them the target of counterfeit and passing off (where people try to market an inferior product under a confusingly similar trade name in order to take advantage of the company’s reputation). “It takes years to build a strong and trusted name in the market,” Evans said. “Therefore, trade mark and copyright infringement is something that we take very seriously. We do not hesitate to take swift legal and commercial action when the occasion arises.”
FICL has achieved significant growth over the last 3-4 years, driven by increased focus on the consumer, improved distributor support, and investment in product development and marketing. “The consumer’s demand for quality, a trusted brand, and a no-nonsense filter product that is easy to understand and use has led to big growth in Asia where consumers prefer to invest in a UK manufactured product they know they can trust in preference to cheap, locally manufactured filters,” said Evans. “Our high quality standards are why the Doulton® brand name is so well known and respected for use in home water filtration systems around the world. Our mission is simple: to provide Doulton® customers, whatever their situation, with top quality, UK manufactured water filters that perform consistently every time and give them clean, healthy, great- tasting water anytime, anywhere. Doulton® drinking water filters have been successful globally because they are so versatile – they will do a job on any water supply.”