Q and A with James Griffiths of Industrial and Marine Hydraulics

Industry Insights

Q and A with James Griffiths of Industrial and Marine Hydraulics

14th December 2023

We began working with James and the team at Industrial and Marine Hydraulics (IMH), to develop a new brand and implement a marketing strategy that would enable them to demonstrate their capabilities as hydraulic engineers.

 In their words, they are Teesside’s best kept secret! A humble team, organically grown from a home-based business, the company works on global engineering projects.

The company was founded in 1983, by hydraulic engineer, Paul Griffiths MBE, who instilled a strong set of values into the company, centered around people, integrity and delivering the ‘best’. These values are still at the heart of the company, which is now managed by Paul’s son, James Griffiths.

As IMH celebrates its 40th year in business, we invited James to reflect on the growth of the company and share the vision for the company’s future.

The company has worked on a number of globally recognised projects, but what’s been your stand out achievements?

As a company we’ve had the privilege of being involved in a number of technically challenging and rewarding projects where the end solution is having a positive effect on people and the environment. Such as the Boston flood defence barrier in Lincolnshire and designing and manufacturing the hydraulic solution for the winches that will stabilise a blowout preventer, designed by Shell in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

However, a personal achievement has been driving forward the digital transformation of the company and implementing a robust succession plan, so that we can still be here in another 40 years!

We have a strong structure, and we see ourselves as a family, where we each have a role to play and are moving together in the same direction. From what my father started, we have strong foundations and we’re continuing to build on that with the investments we’re making in our company culture and the way we work.

Where are you in your digital transformation journey?

We’ve invested in an ERP system that is helping us drive efficiencies and make cost savings in how we manage projects and our sales process. There are still some manual and paper-based processes that we’d like to move away from in order to become a more sustainable business and achieve our goal of certified B corp. So, we are looking at providing each employee with a handheld device so that they can access our ERP and systems remotely.

There is a real digital focus in the business, as we do want to be paperless but it’s more than that. We want to give employees that sense of ownership and provide open access, so that they can view projects, log timesheets and expenses for example, all with ease and from wherever they are working. Really, a lot of what we do is for our employees as we’re not driven by shareholder expectations. So, the purpose of a lot of our digital transformation is to do things to support our employees and in turn our customers and suppliers.

There is still more that we need to do, but I think we’re getting there in the right way. We’re working together as a team to agree what good looks like and how to achieve it, not settling for what we have, and looking to make improvements. We always strive for better and the ways to make that happen.

You mentioned the family culture that you have, what investments are you making in people?

We look to invest in all aspects of supporting our people, from on-the-job training which we provide onsite from our extensive expertise as well as through third parties. We currently have five apprentices who are at different stages of their training, as well as two employees that are currently completing HNCs.

We’ve also given all employees access to a health care app which provides health and wellbeing support. Through the app they can access things like GP appointments, medical and financial advice and online mental health support. Employees also have access to a second app with exercise and meditation programmes, to help people looking to take a more proactive approach to their health and wellbeing. We encourage all employees to access the apps, which are all completely confidential.

We’re also working with a local therapist, Sunflower Cognitive Therapies, to give our employees access to face-to-face therapy as an interim to bridge any gap whilst they wait for NHS support.

And I see our investment in a new facility as one of the biggest things that will benefit our employees.

When will you be moving into your new facility?

We have been looking for some time to find the right place, and we believe we have found a facility. But before moving in were looking to develop and thoroughly modernise before moving the team in, which will likely be in April next year.

We want to be seen as an employer of choice and we want our employees to feel proud of where they work and for our premises to portray the forward thinking, modern engineering company that we are.

We’ve continued to invest in modern machinery and equipment to support the work of our team, but they are housed in a building that is still in the 80s. And whilst we love it for its quirks, charms and memories, we are ready to move to a more modern and inclusive environment.

So, what is next for the company?

We’ll be making significant investment in equipment in the next 6-12 months so that we can give our customers the best experience and service available. We’re investing more in our hire fleet which includes test rigs, flushing rigs and offline filter units.

And as part of our continuing digital transformation, we’ll be implementing an ecommerce platform in the future, as well as developing a customer portal, to make it easier for our customers to access their reports and certification, or to book an engineer to visit their site, whenever they need.

As for growth, our plan is to remain stable for the next 12 months while we embed new processes and develop as a company an agreed culture and strategy. Then we’ll be looking in the next 2-3 years after that for significant growth, through regular service and maintenance contracts with new and existing customers and working on larger projects with key customers.

The core plan is to be sustainable and keep our focus on people – so that we’ll be here for the next 40 years!

Read about how we supported IMH with a brand refresh and a marketing strategy – take a look at the case study.

For more information on IMH visit www.imh-uk.com.