From small beginnings in 2009, UKLED has become an international player by 2015.
This is in no small part due to the vision of its founder, Colin Griffiths, who sensing a future opportunity, began by importing LED lighting.
In 2010, Colin was joined by Mike Parker, a fellow entrepreneur already well established in building refurbishment, supplying glazing systems and automatic doors to the construction industry.
Mike and Colin saw the potential of partnership, with LED lights complementing and extending the products that JPF had on offer. As Mike explains, ‘The small wire engineering in automatic doors is not dissimilar to replacing all the lighting in a school with LEDs. In the public sector, whatever products are being installed, procedures are of paramount importance as are fulfilling both contracts and health and safety requirements.’
The partnership forged ahead, sourcing the raw material from overseas and setting up a production facility in China. Originally the LED products were bought from various Chinese factories but this had resulted in product inconsistency which did not meet with the high standards demanded by Colin and Mike. So in 2010 Colin travelled to Shenzhen to set up his own manufacturing unit that would produce a product that lived up to his exacting standards.
Our manufacturing practices
Appointing a Chinese manager, Colin provided him with a free flat and a free rein. ‘You’ve got to let the Chinese guy run the business. All the stuff gets done but differently. They have three hours for lunch, for example.’ Concerned about the welfare of his Chinese workers, Colin made sure they were given an allowance to cover rent in the suburbs.
However, in addition to the Chinese operation, now Colin and Mike have set up production of LEDs on JPF premises in Bromborough on the Wirral, bucking the trend by backing British manufacturing. ‘We are proud that it’s the first manufacturing facility of its type in the UK. It’s the growth in energy efficient lighting that has made this development possible.’
Why the UK rather than another unit in China?
Colin spells it out. ‘Some clients, especially in India and the Middle East, prefer production to be UK based but it has to be economically viable. Labour is a lot more expensive here than it is in China so the reason we can afford to set up the new facility is because it’s fully automated. One man can control machines that produce 1,000 tubes a week.’
For Colin and Mike success has come quickly. Company turnover continues to increase in line with company reputation.
With a reputation as a progressive company UKLED continues to be progressive. Its latest development is Filament Technology, that is low energy LED lighting designed to mimic the appearance of old style incandescent lighting. This makes low energy lighting attractive to people who wish to retain a more traditional décor.
Growth is next on the agenda with UKLED having its sights firmly set on expansion into the Middle East and Asia.