2020 marked the 30-year anniversary for Ferdinand Bilstein UK Ltd. Paul Dodgson, the company’s Operations Director, reflected on this impressive milestone and on what’s to come.
Q. Normally, a 30-year anniversary would be reason enough to celebrate, but are you really in the mood to do so?
Paul Dodgson (PD): The current situation has truly made it a bit more difficult, but we are still proud of the milestone, nonetheless. Looking back, we started 2020 on a high note and were truly beginning to feel the celebratory spirit. However, come March 23rd, when the Government-imposed lockdowns came into effect, we were faced with numerous unknowns. The situation was looking pretty bad and we had to furlough some of our employees. However, we were still able to maintain our high service level, we stayed close to the customers, and we mastered the crisis better than many of our competitors.
Q. What other obstacles has the company had to overcome over the years?
PD: COVID-19 has undoubtedly been an obstacle, but we have also faced other difficulties over the years, from Brexit to market changes. For instance, back in 2006, the market was fragmented and we were a small fish in a big pond – but so were our customers. Our size served as a benefit, as it helped us to establish ourselves with customers since we could create meaningful bonds.
As we grew, so did these relationships. These helped us while we faced obstacles brought on by Brexit. While competitors and customers have disappeared, been acquired, backed out of the UK, or gone bankrupt, our firm footing in both the market and with customers has helped us to remain stable and grow.
Q. How would you say Ferdinand Bilstein UK has evolved since 1990?
PD: I believe we have come a long way. We have evolved from a small player to a stable presence in the aftermarket. We have also grown tremendously over the years. For instance, the first Managing Director used to store some of the stock in his own garage in the early days, and the first proper warehouse wasn’t built until 2000. Now we have a logistics centre in Markham Vale, which houses 50,000 different articles and is 205,000ftÇ in size.
Going beyond logistical capacity, our turnover has also increased. Overall, we have rooted ourselves firmly in the market and have equipped ourselves effectively.
Q. What do you think are the main factors for the success of Ferdinand Bilstein UK?
PD: For starters, we are highly adaptable. Like the market, we have adjusted and grown to meet new demands all while remaining faithful to who we are. We see ourselves as a strong global business with a local presence, and we pride ourselves on efficiency. For instance, we follow our ‘golden rule’ in which an order made on day one is delivered on day two. Combined, these traits truly benefit us in remaining both flexible and trustworthy in the market.
Q. Ferdinand Bilstein UK has seen a lot of changes in recent years. Do you think change is the defining factor for the years to come? What do you think the situation will look like in 2030?
PD: Whilst we are no strangers to change, I believe moving forward we will see a mix of change and building upon what we are doing now. Our vision is to be the number one choice in the UK aftermarket – something we have already accomplished with filtration – and to expand. While these goals may sound quite big, I believe we are on the right track.