Wales Has It's Fans All Over The World
Daniels Fans Ltd., a privately-owned company based in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire, which designs and manufactures a comprehensive range of industrial fans, has been judged the Welsh regional winner in the 2007 International Trade Awards sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland and organised by International Trade Today magazine as part of its 70th anniversary celebrations.
aniels’ innovative approach to product development and its courage and foresight in investing heavily in R&D, automation, computer systems and training to ensure that it remained competitive in global markets amounted to an unbeatable package.
Founded in 1977 by Neville Daniels, the company is a leading supplier of industrial fans to aluminium and steel heat treatment furnace manufacturers worldwide. The fans range in weight from 250kgs up to 40 tonnes with impellors up to 2.65 meters diameter rotating at up to 3000rpm in gases of temperatures up to 1200°C. Such technology requires advanced skills in stress analysis, metal selection, welding, manufacturing and testing procedures.
The judges were particularly impressed with the way in which the firm fought back from adversity in 1989, when a rapid decline in its UK market meant it had to find new markets or face closure.
Following a review of export customer needs, it embarked on a rapid programme of product development and a complete review of manufacturing to allow flexible, small-batch production on short lead times. A spokesman said: ‘We invested heavily to ensure that we remained competitive in a world market.
‘In 2004 we received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade having increased direct exports by 93 per cent in the previous three years. In the 2006-7 financial year, direct exports will account for 85 per cent of annual turnover with a further 10 per cent being re-exported by UK furnace suppliers.
‘All activities are located on a single site in Llanelli with a team of 33 skilled employees, many of whom joined us from school and have been with us for more than 20 years. The company refuses to compromise quality and performance and has built up an enviable worldwide recognition for quality, performance, reliability and technical support. ‘In order to break into a new market we had to offer potential overseas customers significant benefits before they would move from their existing, often local, supplier.
‘We ranked the European countries in terms of potential market, strength of local suppliers and nationalistic attitude to overseas supply. We identified furnace manufacturers and chose Italy as first target. Neville Daniels and international marketing director Tom Poole visited all the potential decision makers in those companies to establish their needs and to gain their confidence.
‘In some cases, this required a number of visits but we had our first orders within six months. This process of personal contact was repeated in successive years throughout Europe culminating in the rapidly growing Polish and Turkish market. ‘We are now established suppliers to most European high temperature furnace manufacturers, which entails regular visits to discuss specific projects with clients who value the technical advice we can give on the best “value for money” fan configuration.
‘Elsewhere in the world we use our website to promote our products and have been getting around 3,500 “hits” per month, many from the US, Canada and South America from where we are now taking orders. The next step is the translation of the website into Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese (for the growing Brazilian market).’
Neville Daniels was in the fan business 10 years before he set up his own company, in a rented shed. He recalled that the shed was so small that, once a fan had been assembled, a side of the shed had to be removed to get it out. As he expanded, he took on premises with 3,000 square feet of working space. Later, he doubled that before having something custom built.
He believes that all the hard work of the past 10 years or so is now paying off and Tom Poole added that because the company operates at the very top end of its market it is extremely difficult for the competition to challenge it because ‘we have the knowledge, the manufacturing methods and we have put in the investment’. Daniels Fans will now compete in the national final of the 2007 International Trade Awards against other winners from all the English regions, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Royal recognition for Daniels Fans
The award to Daniels Fans was in recognition of the 93% increase in exports achieved in the last 3 years to become a leading world supplier of high temperature industrial fans to the steel and aluminium industries.
The family firm founded in 1977 by Neville Daniels recognised that with the rapid decline in the UK customer base in the 1990's the Company had to export or die.
The Company embarked on a programme to rapidly develop the product range, improve manufacturing methods and marketing channels.
This involved a continuous programme of product development and research into materials capable of withstanding the stresses in high speed impellers operating at temperatures up to 1150C.
To sustain growth into an increasingly competitive world market we will maintain our product development programme, improve manufacturing efficiency and continue to respond to the special needs of our customers.
Winning this award is the result of many years of dedication by our skilled workforce and the support of our many customers around the world.