Interview – Barry Aldridge MCIM, Tidyco

Barry Aldridge MCIM (right), marketing manager for Tidyco with Jay Bhundia, finance manager and Elaine Clark and Sophia Blakey of Rail Forum East Midlands

Derby-based Tidyco, a supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic products to the UK rail industry for over 40 years, recently reported profitable growth of 14%. It is also completing a Trade Mark project which will allow it to export with international brand protection through WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Here, marketing manager Barry Aldridge MCIM fills us in on what’s been happening at the firm.

Hi Barry. You’re a marketing specialist. What’s changed since you started and how have recent developments in the field played into Tidyco’s marketing strategy?

I’ve been in marketing for 17 years. One of the biggest changes has been the shift to digital, but marketing has also changed from being transactional to being predominantly focussed on engagement. In many ways it’s gone down the emotive, or emotional route. It’s tougher now because there’s so much more competition.

Cyber security and data protection are vital because almost everything is done online. At Tidyco, I’ve been busy gaining all the necessary cyber essentials accreditations, and we’ve dispensed with our old open source web platform. This has been part of a broader drive to transform the firm’s marketing strategy.

You need to differentiate in order to stand out, and engaging with people on social media is crucial. We’re very much a people business. We do real-time chat on our website and our online store is very user friendly now.

The firm recently reported profitable growth of 14%? What’s been driving this?

We have a three year growth plan and we’re into the second year now. I’m pleased to say we’re on track.

The online store has been a grower, but it’s not yet the largest part of the business and will be expanded massively. Our significant growth has been in the rail industry, and it has come in part thanks to the local relationships we have built. We’ve also been building a strong rapport with Parker Hannifin at the start of the supply chain. Thirdly, our HVAC and Hose Doctor divisions have seen substantial growth.

In the end, it’s our people who are really driving the company forward. For example, the directors, management team, finance, customer support, manufacturing and logistics personnel have all been instrumental in our recent growth.

Can you tell us a bit about your CSR work?

I like to use the phrase “Glocal” a lot. Even though we’re expanding the export side of our business, we’re not ignoring the community in Derby. We engage with the rail industry and participate in local government initiatives, all with the aim of working towards supply chain excellence.

Corporate social responsibility is a big driver for us. A lot of business is about trust these days, so it’s more important than ever. We’ve been put forward for a parliamentary award by Derby North MP Amanda Solloway off the back of our CSR work.

How would you rate the manufacturing sector’s prospects post-Brexit?

There are challenges ahead but also exciting opportunities. At Tidyco we’ve seen increased demand specifically within the rail sector, and, indeed, we’re looking to become a major player in the East Midlands Gateway programme – a fantastic opportunity for companies in the region. However, moving forward I think it’s important for us and other manufacturers to expand and diversify in order to succeed. For example, we want to grow our supply into the aerospace and automotive sectors in future.

Our strapline is “Quality British Engineering”, and I think stressing the quality of British-made products will be increasingly important post-Brexit.

Finally, tell us what makes Derby a great location to operate from.

The East Midlands in general is a great place to do business. Derby is full of digital innovation, and I think there’s a real opportunity for the city to be recognised globally as a digital leader. We’ve been getting involved with this side of things via the D2N2 LEP. Tech and innovation is a big part of the city’s traditional industries as well, so I can definitely see a bright future ahead for the area.