UKTI South West - Export Case Study
PUBLISHED: 16:38 30 October 2013 | UPDATED: 16:38 30 October 2013
UKTI South West - Export Case Study:
GLOUCESTER BASED DESIGN AND ENGINEERING EXPERTISE MAKES ITS MARK ABROAD
Tomcat specialises in the design and manufacture of innovative equipment for children and adults with special needs. Based in Gloucester, its award winning products include tricycles for people with mild to severe disabilities, school and workplace chairs for users with co-ordination difficulties and specialised beds for children with night safety issues. Already recognized in the UK for the excellence of its custom built products, the company has achieved real success in markets across the globe, thanks to UKTI. To date, Tomcat has made over 5,000 custom-built tricycles, with lifetime support and an unconditional guarantee. The company is now acknowledged as the best in its field with trikes available throughout the world via a network of distributors in overseas markets, including Holland, Belgium, Italy and Russia. Tomcat was founded over 10 years ago by experienced mechanical engineer, Bob Griffin. He used his CAD skills to design and build a tricycle for his son Tom who had Angelmans Syndrome, a condition typified by severe learning difficulties and poor balance.
Bob invented a trike that’s steering, braking and speed were all controlled from behind by Tom’s mum. His invention allowed Tom to burn up all his excess energy on long cycle rides in the beautiful Cotswold countryside near their home. Tomcat is now expert at getting even the most severely disadvantaged riders cycling and frequently have complex cases referred to them by children’s hospitals, pediatricians and therapists. Talking about his work with Tomcat, UKTI International Trade Adviser Nigel Green said: “UKTI has been delighted to support Tomcat and help them grow their business overseas. We have been able to help them in many ways, including accessing European Regional Development Funding and Export Communications Review funding and they now export to Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Ireland and Russia. “Bob Griffin has been a prolific inventor and Tomcat’s recent Queen’s Award for Industry is well earned recognition of the company’s engineering excellence and its many innovations in tricycle design and manufacture.” Bob Griffin commented: “When you get your product right, customers tell their friends and that is the best sales tool we have, but the technology, the quality and the service must be right too. “This approach is just as important abroad as it is in the UK, but without UKTI’s experience, help and support it would have been very difficult for us to know how to approach overseas markets and start exporting. “Over the years we have made full use of the services UKTI provide, including their Passport to Export, Gateway to Global Growth and Trade Show Access programmes. Without their help, for example, we would never have been able to exhibit at an important assisted living trade show in Germany, which led to many important leads and contacts. “UKTI’s Nigel Green has a wealth of experience in international markets and his help and advice has been invaluable to Tomcat in helping us to grow the business. Now up to 20% of our business comes from overseas and we are constantly looking to expand into new countries, most recently Portugal and the USA. “Innovation and good design are very important to us and our business is an ongoing process of learning, inventing, and overcoming – I love what I do because there can be few more rewarding jobs than changing lives.”
To find out more about Tomcat, please go to: http://www.tomcatspecialneeds.co.uk/