Quality and speed can be uncomfortable bedfellows. Yet in the mezzanine floor sector, customers increasingly demand both. “We need to offer high-quality solutions and rapid delivery,” says James Percy, Manufacturing Controller for MiTek’s mezzanine systems division, “particularly when dealing with large clients in the e-commerce sector.”
MiTek relies on its network of carefully vetted suppliers, which include a handful of steel companies and half a dozen steel fabricators. The largest of these fabricators is Toomers Ltd, which supplies the majority of the structural steel required for MiTek’s projects, while another supplier provides the majority of the required ancillaries. Based near Salisbury, Toomers is led by Richard Toomer, whose parents established the firm in 1982. He took over as Managing Director 10 years ago and his three siblings also work in the company. “From humble beginnings 40 years ago,” says Richard Toomer, “we have grown every year and now produce well in excess of 10,000 tonnes of steel components a year.”
Toomers has been a supplier to MiTek for over 10 years and does not work for any other mezzanine companies. Whereas Toomers mostly buys the steel for its other customers, MiTek sources the steel needed for its projects itself, due to the huge volumes involved. The relationship between the two firms is symbiotic. “We secure capacity together,’ explains Rick Askin, MiTek’s Group Procurement Manager, “so Toomers is more of a key partner than a supplier.” Richard Toomer agrees: “It’s definitely more of a partnership. When MiTek’s vision of growth was laid out for us a few years ago, we decided to invest in further capacity for the journey with them.” That investment turned out to be a brand-new £3m facility that came on stream a year ago. It is located a couple of miles from the original building, with operations balanced across the two sites. The expansion also brought additional staff, with the headcount rising from about 50 to around 75. “The investment includes a brand-new spray shop and a powder-coating line,” explains Richard Toomer, “and we have also just installed a robot welder that achieves exceptional quality at high speed.” There is yet more investment in the pipeline, with further machinery due in November and planning permission secured for another facility. This will provide yet more workspace, an important requirement when dealing with extremely large projects – one recent MiTek order for 1800 tonnes of hot-rolled steel demanded beams 20m long and 1m deep!
Quality and reliability
Richard Toomer is clear about what makes his business attractive to MiTek. “It’s all about quality and reliability,” he says. “The secret of our success is continued investment in state-of-the-art equipment, combined with delivering on our word – we do what we say we’re going to do.” Of course, quality and precision are much easier to control when all processes are performed in-house. “With our investment in recent years,” says Richard, “we’re now a one-stop-shop. As we say, ‘if you can draw it, we can make it’.”
With the partnership being long and smooth, many smaller projects do not warrant discussion; orders are specified in detail and simply enter the production system. For larger or more urgent projects, however, the Toomers and MiTek teams will sit around the table at an early stage to identify and eliminate potential issues and delays. “Open communication is a priority for both the MiTek and Toomers teams,” says James Percy, “and this is another key factor in the success of our partnership. With their can-do attitude and fast reaction, we can trust Toomers to get the job done – which is great news for our customers.”