Redmount International Ltd is a leading supplier of equipment and tools for Commercial Vehicle Workshops. In a quick-fire Q&A John Loughran chats with Ray Kenny on the company’s evolution.
JL: Tell me about your evolution as a company.
RK: Redmount was founded in 2003 in Ireland. Initially, the focus was mainly on vehicle lifts, tyre and workshop equipment, compressors, etc, but this focus has changed significantly over the years. We now concentrate on the large lifting equipment, wheel alignment, etc., and have hived off the tyre repair products, jacks etc., into a separate company (tyrerepair.ie), allowing Redmount to specialise and concentrate on its core products.
JL: What makes Redmount stand out from the crowd? What are the company’s unique selling points?
RK: By concentrating on fewer products, and doing those products really well. Our people are very knowledgeable on all our products. Each year our sales staff have to accompany our fitters on a minimum number of installations as part of their ongoing training. When a potential customer calls for information or advice, they will end up speaking to somebody that truly knows the product and isn’t going to bluff them, That wouldn’t be accepted around here. You’re not going to ring here and talk to somebody about a set of column lifts, who has just got off the phone after selling somebody else a cement mixer, or a bunch of spanners.
JL: Do you offer workshop audits? Advise on equipment and workshop layout etc.?
RK: Yes, at present we have one person who is dedicated to advising our CV clients and completing workshop audits. Obviously in these strange times, we want to be very careful, and not put either our potential customer or employees at risk, so the days of rocking up to a workshop are over. As we process enquiries, we try to do as much of the communication side through email or over the telephone. Of course, then, there is the matter of training and operator certification, should the customer proceed, which will always involve an on-site visit.
JL: Why would a CV Workshop choose Redmount International ahead of one of your competitors?
RK: When Redmount initially entered the market, it was certainly obvious that the customer hadn’t been getting value. There were maybe only a small number of offerings, all in-and-around the same price point. Choice was limited, and the high prices made it hard for customers to expand. An example would be in wheel alignment. Only a few years ago, the capital cost of an aligner and suitable lift would have been a very expensive purchase for any medium or smaller size workshop. Redmount entered this market around 2014, and now a wheel alignment system is very affordable to all, with the purchase price dropping maybe 60 per cent for a typical 3-D system. Now, I’m not saying everybody rushed out and bought a Redmount (or our Averna brand), but certainly our competitors had to react, and this resulted in far better value for the end user.
The same is happening with mobile columns, where they have become an achievable purchase for the smaller-sized truck or bus operator. You can now have a set of wireless columns for cheaper than an inspection pit (which have their own particular safety and insurance issues), with the flexibility of working wherever you wish, whatever working height you wish.
On “why Redmount”, value is certainly a big factor, but equally matched with service. Over the lifetime of a product such as a column, there is an associated cost. The cost of service, spares/maintenance, certification, while not a major worry on the day the product is purchased, certainly needs to be factored in. What will a company charge me should spare parts be needed? What could look like a bargain today might end up becoming a very expensive product over its lifetime. Not only do Redmount wish to offer value to the customer in their initial purchase, but also over the product’s lifetime.
JL: Tell me about customer retention. How important is that to you as a business?
RK: Very important. We trade on our name, and without going into the old clichés, it’s true that you’re only as good as your last sale. Ireland is a small market, and if you’re not performing at your best, every time, word travels fast. But it is not fear that drives us, rather pride in what we do. We believe in our products, the service we provide, and how we interact with our customers.
JL: There’s an old saying: “You have to service what you sell”. Have you Service Engineers on the road?
RK: Most definitely. Service is very important to Redmount. If you’re selling a product that you can’t support or service, then you’ll be found out very fast. Indeed, we get quite a number of calls to support other competitors’ products. Needless to say we don’t.
JL: Your range of mobile column lifts are particularly popular with Commercial Vehicle Workshops. Why is that do you think?
RK: Price and the Redmount brand, coupled together, I’d say. Our products are very well known. Customers have knowledge of who we are and how we operate. Plus the fact the columns are a wireless system, fully portable, easy to charge. As our columns are hydraulic, the cost of ownership is low and downtime minimised during service (compared to the screw type).
JL: We’ve all been through a very challenging few months with Covid-19, and there’s no prospect of an improvement in the coming months. What is your assessment of the CV Workshop market? Do you see any signs of optimism there?
RK: From what we’ve seen from the enquiries coming in, the truck sector is strong. The bus men have been hit hard, especially those involved in tourism. I’d like to think, with schools being back, that the bus operators are getting some relief, but it certainly has been hard. The finance companies seem to be lending again, which always points to a positive outlook.
For Redmount, I have to say we are very busy, with figures up compared to last year. I think businesses have consolidated and are looking at a different way of doing things, maybe more in-house. The major issue we’ve encountered is getting stock in on time. This has been a big problem, and the effects will be felt for a while yet. For example, the factory we buy our hydraulic power-packs off, in Italy, are now running at a 24 week lead-time. It’s hard to predict and order now what we might be selling next April. The Irish market is strong for us, and our overseas market is growing.
JL: Looking forward has Redmount any new products launches that you would like to tell us about?
RK: We are offering a 22T (5.5T x 4 column) set of wireless mobile column lifts, in response to requests from the bus market, where the 30T column might have been overkill. With a lower price, hopefully this will have the effect of pulling more customers into this product space.