Successful UK manufacturer looks up to the Dyson Approach

Posted on 22 May 2017 by Jonny Williamson

The business philosophy adopted by James Dyson and his world-leading technology company is respected by a similar approach – and successful – UK plumbing systems manufacturer, John Guest.

UK Manufacturer - Alongside innovation, a pro-active approach towards investing in technology is also playing a significant role – image courtesy of John Guest.
Alongside innovation, a pro-active approach towards investing in technology is also playing a significant role – image courtesy of John Guest.

The West Drayton-headquartered firm John Guest has always been an innovation company, one which looks to build competitive advantage into every one of its products – be it high reliability, ease of use or speed of fitting.

Each of the products – and the company’s output is now measured in the millions – is built around founder John Guest’s innovative ‘Push-Fit’ technology. It’s a concept used in all the company’s connectors for core markets including plumbing & heating, underfloor heating, drinks dispense & pure water, compressed air & pneumatics, telecommunications, blown fibre and automotive.

The Manufacturer recently sat down with the family-owned firm’s director of international sales & marketing, James Guest –  grandson of founder, John Guest.

He said: “What we sell is technology, that’s what we’ve always believed. We are an innovation company and the most important thing is having a differentiating factor around you, something we’re trying to build in to as many of our products as we can.

“If you only compete on price, then you’re in trouble, because there is only way down. We’ve never decided to do that; we’ve always gone for a market leadership position.”

The firm currently reinvests nearly 10% of its revenue back into R&D and new product development. As James described it, the company doesn’t just invest for the following year, the focus is five even ten-years in the future.

The company’s approach towards innovation and technology is why James considers there to be close similarities between John Guest and Dyson – both the companies themselves, and the founders behind them.

He explained: “We really admire what Dyson as an organisation has done. We are on a smaller scale, but I think that my grandfather would have got on very well with him. They are similar types; my grandfather was a tinkerer, a man who would work all night on one particular solution. He was full of ideas, but very passionate about the ethos, ‘if you must do something, make it the best it can be’ – i.e. reliable, high quality and world-class.

“In terms of how we position ourselves as a brand, I see very clear links with the Dyson group, such as how they have approached things and the steps they have taken. Even though their manufacturing has left the UK, they’ve done a fantastic job of raising the profile of engineering and pushing their technology forwards.

“Every time they release a new product, it’s that bit better than before, it’s not just simply to reduce the cost of their product, and we take a lot of that on board.”