Steve McKay of Motion Control Products Limited tells us about innovative products for the automation industry.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Steve McKay: It’s a difficult time for everybody, but with a positive attitude and knowing several vaccines around the corner will be administered to everybody by the autumn, unlike previous lockdowns, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Motion Control Products Limited.
Steve McKay: Having worked straight from higher education into the field of electric motors and controllers with a successful innovative company, having then spent my time moving on to two other companies in the same market, with the latter being a multinational, I got disenchanted with the ‘corporate world’ and decided to start my own company. Difficult at first in the climate at the time, but with determination, knowledge, and passion, it has borne fruit with Motion Control Products Limited now being 26 years in the robotics and automation market and still growing.
How does Motion Control Products Limited innovate?
Steve McKay: By looking to the market challenges and determining what customers need to sort out their automation product requirements and robotics challenges, we will think ‘outside the box’ with our skilled engineers and provide our customers as close as possible to meet their needs. We will also ‘tweak’ the requirements to make our customers happy that they have identified and worked with a company that listens to their requirements.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Steve McKay: It has certainly affected us from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 last year with a reduction in our sales turnover. In fact, I was in China when I heard about this virus in Wuhan, so over the past 10 months, we have evolved with our new outlook on sales, without travel and face-to-face meeting. This has now resulted in heavy investment in ‘digital marketing,’ and we are currently building a new AR/VR studio room in our factory. This will have numerous cameras, a streaming console, and full television production to provide online technical presentations with our product range working within the room. The old way of the sales engineer doing a ‘milk round’ seeing customers will change for the future. With the overall initial contact being digital, we will have to learn to live with COVID for a long time. As we are not the only company to struggle with the ‘old vision’ of direct sales as we used to, we are also looking to help local SMEs use this facility when not in use by ourselves.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Steve McKay: Yes, we had to make two of our three regional sales engineers redundant, as they could not embrace the ‘digital era’ that must happen for the future. What we have learned is to embrace the digital marketing challenges we all have to face for the forthcoming years. If you don’t, then times could be difficult for any company trying to reach out to their existing and future customers.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Steve McKay: We currently use TEAMS, ZOOM, and Webinars, but we are also looking to other platforms to assist us by keeping in touch with our customers and making sure they know what MCP is currently developing within its portfolio of products.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Steve McKay: We did successfully have a CBILS loan, but again with changing your business model to suit this current environment was needed to keep our people and business going, so we will continue to do this for the foreseeable future. You have to change and relook at your business model continually to stay ahead of the curve.
Your final thoughts?
Steve McKay: Stay safe and positive for the future.