Austrian-based Mayer & Company – better known to its customers in the UK at least, as MACO – is one of Europe’s largest hardware manufacturers. With subsidiaries in most European countries MACO steadfastly maintains design, development and production of its products within its own factories. Control, in the pursuit of perfection, is a key part of MACO’s corporate psyche.
The company’s UK Headquarters at Sittingbourne in Kent offers an impressive visual analogy for MACO’s commitment to engineering excellence: the steel-clad monolith towers impressively as the visitor approaches and the legend continues as one enters the building and continues through its interior. Wide-open areas, high ceilings and much use of steel either as structural elements or decorative hue abound. Constantly evolving in design and innovative features one hopes the science fiction-esque atmosphere is not lost in its execution.
MACO is highly structured throughout the organisation, that is clear. And yet much of the corporate discipline is assumed, ‘felt’ by its management and staff: “The corporate ID is key,” explained Kevin Whiting, managing director of MACO UK. “The DNA of the Group and its values are very important but we are able to approach the local market in our own way. We have a great deal of freedom to serve our market as appropriate, what is best for our customers, within a common set of principles. The values of the Group are ingrained – simply because they work.”
One assumes that autonomy has been earned however. The UK is one of MACO’s key markets and Kevin and his team have enjoyed backing for a massive investment during the past three years in product development for a range that has been developed specifically for the UK market; not adaptations but products, such as the new PROTECT door locks that are fully designed and based upon input from MACO’s UK customers. That autonomy also included backing for the company to take a stand at the first FIT Show that took place in April: “It was a great success,” explained Kevin. “Every product was new and the door lock was especially important for us. We told people it was coming and invited them to The FIT Show to see and try it for themselves. It was also an opportunity for us to work with our key customers with our products fitted to theirs on our stand. They included PVC-U, aluminium, timber and composite and it worked very well indeed.”
Kevin does not appear to be a man that does anything on a whim and so the company’s early booking of a further large stand at The FIT Show 2014 must be taken seriously, that he and his team have fully evaluated their next move: “We had a great show in Hall 4 (redesignated as ‘1a’ for 2014) and we were happy to be there. That location was not available to us again when we decided to book for 2014 and the opportunity for a large stand in Hall 1 came up and we took the decision early to secure it.”
Appearing at The FIT Show 2014 puts MACO at two major trade shows next year. The Group’s resources are heavily focused on Fensterbau in its biennial cycle and an important focus for its pan-European customers. To a degree however the UK company’s participation in The FIT Show is a little at odds with Group policy. Kevin explains: “Fensterbau is a tradition for MACO and it is usually the only show the company participates in during that year; we thought that would be the case again. But we discussed our desire to be at The FIT Show next year with the board and they backed us to take part again. It is a measure of the importance MACO places on the UK market and our customers here that the board decided to take part in both shows. We have a huge investment in new products and infrastructure, people and every part of the UK business. Our new products are UK driven and specific and we need the FIT Show to communicate this.”
The FIT Show appearance is also an acknowledgement that despite the power and pull of Fensterbau few travel from the UK to the event; it remains very much a European mainland showcase. The first-time UK visitor is inevitably bemused by the stark contrast in the approach by most major exhibitors at Fensterbau compared with UK trade shows generally, with many ‘stands’ taking the form of large bars and restaurant areas often catering for hundreds of visitors at a time. Unlike the MACO Group which places exceptionally high importance on displaying new products with over half of the stand space dedicated to product launches, many other stands have little if any product on display, the primary objective being customer retention in the highly competitive mainland European arena. Being a European and Worldwide expo, new products for central European markets can get lost within the overall theme of the exhibition.
MACO will also repeat a strategy that they employed for 2013, that of immersing most of the company’s UK staff in the event: “We took almost all of our staff up to Telford,” said Kevin. “It was a great experience and opportunity to get them out to a different environment and to meet our customers. Most of our 33 staff made the journey and it was very successful and something we will repeat for 2014.”
Kevin is proud of the obvious respect that he and his team in the UK command from the Austrian board and the freedom they enjoy as a result to shape their own destiny. Many travelled from the company’s Head Office to experience MACO’s foray into The FIT Show for themselves, an experience that apparently shored up their confidence: “The feedback from Austria was very positive,” said Kevin, “very complimentary. They see a lot of shows and they were very impressed with the overall event.”
Praise indeed, for both MACO and The FIT Show. 2014 promises to cement the future for both brands.
See us Hall 1, stand 136.