Many a successful business has flourished from humble beginnings. That is certainly the case with QIC Trims…
The interior fit-out products specialist began as a four-person operation, with its aluminium extrusions being manufactured and dispatched from a small shed in a large airfield. But that was more than 25 years ago. Since then, staffing levels have increased nearly 10-fold in line with product demand, with QIC now occupying a 36,000ft2 manufacturing plant in Buckinghamshire.
The current premises is symbolic of the company’s reputational rise as a go-to provider of aluminium trims and products for use within dry lining, suspended ceilings and glass partitioning systems. Neil Miller, QIC Trims’ Sales and Marketing Director, said ‘propriety’ in respect of its service provision was key to the business’s burgeoning turnover. It’s a characteristic that was instilled from its earliest days when the company’s production facility was a humble shed, rather than the state-of-the-art plant QIC currently owns.
“It’s been an incredible rise,” he said. “From trims to glass partitioning profiles and sheet metal products, we now deliver a range of bespoke interior fit-out solutions. But what sets us apart is our service. We are focused on being super easy to deal with and having the right products available. If the customer orders it today, we do our utmost to ensure they get it tomorrow. It’s quite a simple ethos, but one that’s stood us in good stead throughout the years.”
Keeping pace with demand
Success came quickly to Quality In Components (QIC), which was founded by engineer Keith Davies in 1996. Just one year following its formation, the company upped sticks from its basic base at Shenington Airfield in Banbury, Oxfordshire to a 14,000ft2 production facility in nearby Brackley. Comprising three units occupied by three times the number of staff than were employed 12 months previously, the new site was a furious hive of activity. Such was the urgency to keep pace with customer demand for QIC’s vaunted aluminium trims, a surprise, yet friendly brush with ‘the law’ ensued, as Neil Miller explains. “Keith told me that forklifts would often hurtle along the road between the units to ensure deliveries went out on time. That was until a policeman visited the site one day and said, ‘You know you can’t drive your forklift on the road, don’t you?’ It was news to Keith.”
As years passed and turnover boomed, a move away from the Brackley premises was sought. The company had embarked on a series of high-profile projects, such as the delivery of aluminium trims and assorted products for a 100,000m2 aluminium grid that was built on behalf of Swedish telecoms giant, Nortel. Hence, additional space was needed to explore new business frontiers.
A building property developer associate of Keith Davies recommended a derelict site in Buckinghamshire as the next QIC HQ. The disused scrapyard neighboured RAF Finmere, which had served its time as a former pilot training centre. The derelict site was ideal for Keith’s expanding venture, which unbeknown to him, would have explosive beginnings. As Neil recalls: “During building work, Keith took a panicked call to say, ‘We have to stop everything. We’ve started excavating and we’ve found bombs buried in the ground. What shall we do?’
Neil described how bomb disposal experts called to the scene took into account the site’s former use a pilot training facility and declared that the potentially items were ‘just flares.’ They repaired to a nearby farmer’s field to prove their assumption and a crowd gathered to watch them detonate one of the devices. “The explosion knocked everyone off their feet,” Neil exclaimed. “After which, the bomb disposal guy turned around and said, ‘Actually, they were bombs.’
The factory opened in Buckinghamshire – where QIC remains based – in February 2002. Keith Davies sold the business a year later, with Jonathan Irwin taking over the business in 2013. Since then, QIC has gone from strength-to-strength. Neil joined the company as business development manager in 2015, progressing to Sales and Marketing Director. He said along with Managing Director Matt Woollam, the pair have been able to widen QICs product offering, with plans to branch out still further. “Myself and Matt joined QIC within a week of each other. At the time, the company was really just focused on trims for drylining and ceilings. We’ve added a glass partitioning product range, which has been hugely successful. We’ve also added a sheet metal fabrication side to the business. Metal ceilings will be the next new thing for us.”
With nearly 30 employees split between its administrative and production areas and a full external sales force, QIC is looking forward to embellishing its brand as an acclaimed product manufacturer for the fit-out sector. But to realise how far you’ve come; you need to remember where you began. For QIC and founder Keith Davies, the dream began with a little shed and a lot of ambition. Now operating at a much larger scale, Neil said it was crucial QIC retained its humility and customer focus, the founding traits which first attracted him to the company. “QIC was always a company that I had enjoyed dealing with when I worked in the distribution sector. So, when the opportunity came to work for them, it was an easy decision to make. They have been around a long time and have such a good name in the marketplace. Thus, eight years later, I’m still here.”