From supplying Scotland's mills to expansion in over 20 countries, this family business is on the up-and-up.
Keira Proctor spends her days in the Victorian house that’s been in her family for generations, sitting at the desk that used to be her grandfather’s, with her dog Dougal at her feet.
And it’s from there, now converted to a fully functioning office which houses over half of the company's 130 staff, that she runs her award-winning and rapidly growing family business, looking to expand into new markets all over the world.
Driving growth through exports
The A Proctor Group began life manufacturing textiles and supplying flax to Scotland’s mills, now, four generations later, it is a specialist manufacturer and supplier of innovative breathable membranes and vapour control layers to the construction industry, and supply specialist insulation products into oil and gas, rail and automotive industries.
What we find works extremely well is to focus in on one particular country or market and make sure that we understand the local regulations - the local requirements.
Keira Proctor, MD, A Proctor Group
Much of the success and expansion of the past few years has been driven by the exporting. Keira said: “What we find works extremely well is to focus in on one particular country or market and make sure that we understand the local regulations - the local requirements.
“And once we understand that and what the customers want that’s when we start to see success. We have customers in 19 countries and we have actually supplied projects in 22 in 2015 alone.
“Probably one of the most challenging things is actually finding the decision-makers in these markets and what Scottish Enterprise has done is put us in touch with people who know people.”
Winning a competitive edge through innovation
Getting to know decision-makers and finding out, through them, what the market wants has been key to international growth. Once the need is identified, innovation is often necessary to create a product that meets the need.
Under Keira’s direction, A Proctor has evolved its products to meet demand in new markets. The company is committed to innovation through extensive research and development. She said: “No idea is too silly, or boring to investigate, quantify and try to make work. We need new products, new ideas to push the company forward.”
A suggestion from a junior member of staff at a regular R&D meeting led to the company branching out into the rail industry with an innovative product solution, now worth more than a million pounds in the UK, with opportunities in Europe rapidly expanding.
Smart thinking on ways to export
Based in Blairgowrie may seem, on the face of it, remote from the global markets Keira and her team are focusing on. And, while travel is essential, a rural Scottish headquarters isn’t a disadvantage.
“There are much cleverer ways to export now,” she said. “It’s very important to be committed to exporting and to show your potential partners that you are happy to be in country and supporting that relationship. Once that relationship is in place it’s easy to facilitate over the internet by way of email, Skype calling, and so on.”
How we can help
Are you keen to export your products or services, but don’t know how to begin? Or perhaps you’re already exporting, but you’d like to improve your processes and extend your market reach? We can help guide you through the next steps for your business.
Talk to an export adviser today