King Materials Handling started from home, in a back room converted into an office.
It began with just a desk, a Golfball typewriter, a telephone, a fax machine and just one employee, Ron Mileham (now managing director).
These days, as with many companies, business comes from a variety of sources including: word of mouth; repeat business; satisfied clientele; the company website; blog; targeted marketing; editorial; trade publication advertising and much more.
The biggest changes over time have been in the capturing of prospects. King Materials Handling increased the size of their Yellow Pages advertisement every time they could afford to, until they had the largest possible ad.
It worked well for many years, then when the web came along, it was easy to see that instead of just being local, they were going national and global – like it or not.
The Yellow Pages ad was made significantly smaller, and the web presence significantly larger.
With regard to competition, the most noticeable change came about in the recession.
Salespeople and managers were being put out of work, and for many of them, the only way was to start their own business, so that changed the landscape.
Using a mobile phone and an iPad for business became the norm. Mileham explained the contrast between 'bricks and mortar' versus online business, considering how the two work together.
"The simple answer is that they can co-exist or they can be autonomous. I think the marrying of the two is best for us. I recently hosted a gathering of four engineers and purchasing personnel, who came to the office to discuss a major contract to supply air bag scissor lift tables, packing benches, multi directional packing benches, conveyors and oversized supply trolleys.
"They were able to see what we were offering in the showroom. They could interact with real people. They could feel the history of King Materials Handling, and they could discuss their needs face to face.
"So in this instance, I believe it made a difference. I believe prospects still like to think that the business has some pedigree, and that the person they are dealing with has some industry knowledge."
King got the job. Although the offer went out to several companies, King gave them several possible options on their preferences, and after a few discussions, a purchase order was received.
Part of the brief was to supply all products to a very tight deadline, which meant working throughout the Christmas break, which is no mean feat in Australia when most people want to be anywhere but at work.
Fortunately King and their supply partners were up for the challenge, and managed to complete everything on schedule, ready for the operators staffing the two new DCs to use their new height adjustable equipment on the first day back to work.
King was able to be innovative and yet price competitive, according to Mileham. From the feedback received, King achieved exactly that. King Materials Handling now has a completely new range of innovative packing station products ready for launching soon.
Mileham highlighted the necessity of evolving in the industry.
"In this fast moving climate, it's a case of change or die. As for the business, the basics are still the same – provide a quality product at a price the client can live with. Poor quality doesn't cut it anymore. People have been bitten, and there is a trend back to paying more but getting more also."
However Mileham does recognise that there are some elements which have not changed in the past 25 years.
"What's not changed is the giving of a true service. We are not unseen and unknown. My picture is on the web site. Our blog tells our story. Our Hints & Tips are useful.
"We address problems quickly (then worry about it later).
"We try to get to the bottom of our clients problems, then offer one or more solutions based upon our collective expertise."