When a well-known and respected company is acquired by another, news of the transaction quickly spreads throughout the industry and speculation as to why the deal was made is rife. The recent acquisition of Trimwel by one of its key suppliers, Metamark, was no different.
Despite the industry speculation, the reasons behind the acquisition were quite simple and Metamark’s view is that Trimwel’s experience, its reputation and the relationships it has built since its founding, are not things to lightly put aside. Metamark has no plans to bend Trimwel into a new shape. Instead, it’s business as usual for Trimwel but with a wider market ahead of it and more resources behind.
Trimwel is a highly evolved business that has firmly established itself in the print sector. The business model it promotes is a reflection of market and customer needs rather than something that’s imposed upon the industries that it serves. Having recognised that customers like to do business in a particular way, Trimwel has built up a loyal client base and continues to attract new customers on a regular basis.
The company’s business is built on the idea that signs and graphics producers would rather have cash in the bank than have the materials of their trade on the shelves. On that basis, Trimwel supports its customer by supplying what’s needed and when it’s required, at prices the market is happy to pay. For example, if a customer requires a few metres of a particular material, Trimwel will supply that material in a bespoke length. Trimwel’s ability to supply on this basis mean that the customer is prepared to back off their inventory holding to Trimwel, thus saving the need to have cash tied up.
One of the earliest suppliers to join the Trimwel product portfolio was 3M. It’s a relationship that began in the 1980s and continues to this day, making Trimwel the region’s longest standing 3M distributor. When 3M and Trimwel met, computerised signmaking was just beginning to advance behind the Gerber Graphix 3, introduced on this side of the Atlantic by Spandex. 3M’s materials were very popular with owners of the Gerber computer and buying habits were changing. Materials were required in new formats and the volumes being consumed were rising dramatically. Trimwel responded to this growth. It wasn’t long before other suppliers recognised the value in what Trimwel could offer as a distribution system and took steps to get aboard. Among them was a company based in Lancaster in the UK known at the time as Ultramark.
A self-adhesive materials manufacturer, products from Ultramark were targeted at an emerging market for shorter term applications for which other materials were over-specified. Trimwel carried the product and turned the opportunity into a success for both Trimwel customers and Trimwel itself.
Today, the Trimwel portfolio includes families of related components that are used by Trimwel’s customers to build finished signs such as directories, fascias and post-panel signage. Trimwel promotes the systems behind its business model and succeeds in getting the products to market, whether they’re freely chosen by sign makers or specified by end-users.
The company has a reputation as an innovator, with suppliers attracted to Trimwel’s business model and ability to hold inventory. One such product is Visive, a product used for the provision of architectural “lit accents” as seen on petrol station canopies and increasingly, outlining the night sky on buildings. The product represents an opportunity for the many sign makers who shop at Trimwel and who have a hunger for something new.
Metamark’s attraction to Trimwel stems from the company’s relationship with it as a distributor. Despite also handling other brands, Trimwel has delivered great performance for Metamark. It’s Metamark’s belief that the Trimwel business model and the company’s attractive portfolio can be taken to a wider market. Neither company is a stranger to driving specifications and both have great customer appeal. With more resources at its disposal, it is expected that Trimwel’s services will prove attractive to a variety of new markets.
Commenting on Trimwel’s future, Managing Director Nick Little said: “When Metamark expressed its interest in having Trimwel become a Metamark company, I immediately wondered what was it they thought they were buying and why did they want it? Turns out, they understood our model well. Its effectiveness was demonstrated through the sales of Metamark products and they had clear ambitions that built upon Trimwel as a brand.
“The value of a company is largely a reflection of how attractive that company is to its customers. To change Trimwel drastically would diminish its value. That’s not what Metamark wants. It recognises that Trimwel’s range of novel products could address new and developing markets. That’s where our gears mesh perfectly. With Metamark onboard, I can now deliver against that ambition and bring my customers and suppliers on the journey too. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to fully engaging with this opportunity.”
The sign and allied industries are operating in interesting times. Innovative solutions and applications are increasingly being sought after; Trimwel is perfectly positioned to deliver on this requirement. “It’s going to be an exciting journey forward. Trimwel is and will remain the company that customers love to do business with. Both customers and suppliers will benefit directly from the growth we’re going to deliver,” says Nick.
The last word belongs to those without whom Trimwel and Metamark wouldn’t exist – the customers. Hugh Kenny of Coatek said: “We’ve been dealing with Trimwel for a good few years. The firm’s product knowledge and the fact that it holds large stocks has helped us grow.” Kevin Parkes at Iconic also said: “The service level that we get from Trimwel is of an extremely high standard and the product range is excellent. Regardless of who answers the phone, you know you’ll be looked after and the right product will be delivered.”
Business as usual? Sounds like it.