The Silverbridge, County Down, family business now called Hault originated in 1986 as Top Security Fencing (NI) Ltd. Last year it was rebranded as Hault, to provide a more distinctive identity.
Dennis Summers came up with the business proposition when he tried to buy security fencing, but was refused by the company whose product he wanted. That fencing was sold only through specified agents. Unhappy with this, Dennis developed his own fencing design, which he then patented and soon after started a company to make and distribute it.
Initially the majority of all sales went through a partner company in Great Britain, but in 2007 Dennis’s daughter – Shauna Summers – started with the company as general manager and began building a database of new clients. In 2010 the company rebranded – with the support of Invest NI – as Hault, as the old company name did not travel well in markets outside the UK and Ireland.
As part of the rebranding, a network of distributors was set-up. The name ‘Hault’ also emerged from this – although it was new, a focus group exercise revealed that people thought they had already heard of Hault and trusted the company.
As a result of Shauna’s greater focus on marketing and a move to selling direct from the company’s manufacturing site, the company has substantially increased its turnover. It has also opened the door to a big increase in export earnings.
Large international orders are now flowing in, including from Nigeria and Bahrain, through a network of 10 overseas agents who are much better positioned to work in overseas territories and understand local trading conditions. Another major new order has recently been received from Airbus in Bristol, to provide greater protection to a very high value factory complex.
In fact, earnings have consistently risen in the last few years, with crime and the fear of crime amidst the economic downturn encouraging more companies to improve their physical security arrangements.
“The recession has been good for us as people have become more price sensitive. They have started to shop around and found that we have exceptionally high quality products at competitive prices,” explains Shauna. “This combined with the fact that we offer advice on what the best product for a specific project may be means that they can come to us with an idea and we can turn it into a physical product.
“Plus we have in-house manufacturing, which means that we can develop new products for them at competitive prices, whereas in the past the only companies who were in a position to do this charged a fortune for the service. The rebranding and the fact that we have started to sell into the Irish market means that we are becoming better known, whereas prior to 2007, 95% of our products went overseas, either to the UK or further afield with little staying in Ireland and so few companies had heard of us.”
The high security, anti-scaling, fencing is Hault’s best selling product – other items in the company’s portfolio including gates, bollards, mesh, hand rails and a weld less railing panel, mostly used by councils in Great Britain. The company also produces bespoke items according to customers’ requirements.
The company now has exciting ambitions to expand further. Shauna explains: “Our plans include increasing the size of our factory floor space, introducing new products to the market including a new post and bracket system for weld mesh fencing and also producing a lighter version of the Apex Railing system which will be focused more on the residential market than the industrial market. This will be in conjunction with increasing our export sales.”
The combination of competitive pricing and the increasing focus on security following the English riots has positioned Hault to expand even further in the years to come.