Shin­ing the light

– Lawrence & Han­son Group has been in ex­is­tence for 128 years. They have sur­vived be­cause they are able to adapt to chang­ing times and tech­nolo­gies.

Business First - - CONTENTS -

Con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment has been the goal of L&H Group since its found­ing days in 1886. The mes­sage of suc­cess and one that cur­rent CEO Robin Nor­ris is keen to put for­ward, is that suc­cess is due to a pro­gram of in­no­va­tion and con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment, cou­pled with a strong fo­cus on qual­ity. It is a cul­ture of com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment, and the pride they take in meet­ing cus­tomer needs. The phi­los­o­phy of qual­ity is stead­fast and in­grained.

Ac­cord­ing to Robin this is achieved in sev­eral dif­fer­ent ways.

“We have a long-term com­mit­ment to learn­ing and have al­ways had a strong com­mit­ment to people. This com­mit­ment has be­come more rel­e­vant to­day as we try to keep pace with what is hap­pen­ing in the sec­tor, but we feel we can do this by fo­cus­ing on the de­vel­op­ment of staff through learn­ing pro­grams that turn staff into lead­ers.”

It’s the case of lead­er­ship ver­sus man­age­ment, which all or­gan­i­sa­tions should fo­cus on. For Robin, lead­er­ship is vi­tally im­por­tant, as good man­age­ment is the re­sult of strong di­rec­tion.

Through­out the or­gan­i­sa­tion em­ploy­ees are en­cour­aged to learn and lead. They are en­cour­aged to have strong val­ues.

“We don’t com­pro­mise on the val­ues we have gone to busi­ness with,” Robin says. “We are de­fin­i­tive in what we will and won’t do and we stay true to those val­ues. It’s a big part of how we com­mu­ni­cate who we are to staff, sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers.”

This can be chal­leng­ing when the com­pany’s ex­panse takes in 180 lo­ca­tions across Aus­tralia and over 1400 em­ploy­ees. How­ever us­ing a range of medi­ums – on­site and off – Robin is able to com­mu­ni­cate to his people so that they are ea­ger to take the jour­ney the com­pany is on.

“We don’t want them to feel like they are be­ing told what to do. We want them to feel that they are part of the way for­ward with the or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

L&H pour a lot into its em­ploy­ees’ growth. As such the com­pany joined the Aus­tralian Em­ploy­ment Covenant (AEC). The Aus­tralian Em­ploy­ment Covenant (AEC) is a pri­vate sec­tor ini­tia­tive aim­ing to se­cure 50,000 sus­tain­able jobs for Indige­nous Aus­tralians.

“It is the right thing to do and a good op­por­tu­nity to be­come in­volved and help the wider com­mu­nity. We felt be­ing in­volved would have a pos­i­tive im­pact on our busi­ness. It is a way to show staff that L&H is a good cor­po­rate cit­i­zen who wants to be in­volved in all the right things.

“From a commercial point of view it pro­vides us with op­por­tu­ni­ties to em­ploy people in ar­eas where it is dif­fi­cult to find the right talent, par­tic­u­larly in re­mote ar­eas where we need tal­ented people.”

What is does from an out­sider’s point of view is show com­mit­ment to

the growth of staff mem­bers and people in gen­eral. In­deed, as we men­tioned be­fore com­mit­ment is a cor­ner­stone to this com­pany’s suc­cess and it ex­tends to clients and sup­pli­ers.

L&H has not only built loy­alty due to its longevity, but ac­cord­ing to Robin the com­pany has never taken its cus­tomers for granted.

“We have al­ways looked to bring busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties to our cus­tomers. These are businesses in their own right, small businesses, so we look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to help them grow which in turn helps us grow. We prom­ise great ser­vice and that has been a fo­cus in our busi­ness for­ever.”

In a rapidly chang­ing in­dus­try ser­vice and growth are key. To be able to pro­vide that ser­vice, it means a com­pany must con­tinue to evolve and track in­dus­try changes.

“Our fo­cus has al­ways been on try­ing to un­der­stand cus­tomers and the chang­ing in­dus­try needs, so that we can solve their prob­lems for them. We do this by tak­ing so­lu­tions to them, not just prod­uct. We have al­ways looked to add value to the cus­tomer. We have al­ways looked to recog­nise new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties and how we ad­dress those op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Out of this com­mit­ment have come specialist businesses within L&H to cater to evolv­ing tech­nolo­gies and prac­tices. These businesses in­clude Auslec, which is com­mit­ted to meet­ing the needs of in­dus­trial, elec­tri­cal and safety spe­cial­ists, L&H So­lar + So­lu­tions, Pa­cific Dat­a­com (PDC), a specialist dis­trib­u­tor of cop­per, fi­bre and wire­less data prod­ucts and ma­te­ri­als, Spe­cialised Light­ing So­lu­tions is a na­tional leader in the sourc­ing and dis­tri­bu­tion of light­ing and Smarter Cloth­ing, which sup­plies cor­po­rate cloth­ing, work­wear and pro­mo­tional cloth­ing. The elec­tri­cal in­dus­try has seen a great num­ber of changes.

“We have cre­ated businesses to cater to those mar­kets such as data com­mu­ni­ca­tions, so­lar and al­ter­na­tive en­ergy. We are al­ways keen to learn and keep our mind open,” Robin says.

As sup­pli­ers bring new prod­uct to mar­ket, L&H re­mains keen to present that to cus­tomers.

“We try to de­velop strong part­ner and sup­plier re­la­tion­ships that en­sure we are get­ting their prod­uct to mar­ket quickly,” Robin says.

We have been mar­ket lead­ers be­cause we are al­ways pre­pared to in­no­vate and try some­thing new. We have a strong cul­ture built around our val­ues and that drives our de­ci­sion-mak­ing.’

Match Mas­ter a sup­plier and man­u­fac­turer of dig­i­tal TV an­tenna sys­tems for do­mes­tic and dig­i­tal TV commercial ap­pli­ca­tions and Nex­ans Olex, an Aus­tralian man­u­fac­turer of elec­tri­cal ca­bles are val­ued sup­pli­ers. Nexan has been part­ners with L&H for a long time and a strong re­la­tion­ship has de­vel­oped over that time. Mas­ter has been a part­ner for a shorter amount of time; how­ever what they both have

in com­mon is that they are in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies who share sim­i­lar val­ues.

Philips Light­ing and L&H Group have been part­ners for over 50 years . In the new world of LED and En­ergy Ef­fi­cient so­lu­tions, Philips is a great fit in both the L&H and Spe­cialised Light­ing So­lu­tions value propo­si­tion.

Val­ues cre­ate a bond, bonds turn into loy­alty and this means that the or­gan­i­sa­tion, the sup­plier and the cus­tomer are all in win-win sit­u­a­tions. Which is great busi­ness prac­tice.

“We have been mar­ket lead­ers be­cause we are al­ways pre­pared to in­no­vate and try some­thing new. We have a strong cul­ture built around our val­ues and that drives our de­ci­sion-mak­ing,” Robin says.

Take for in­stance the so­lar move­ment. L&H viewed this as a mar­ket op­por­tu­nity and acted ac­cord­ingly.

“We needed to pro­vide a so­lu­tion, not just com­po­nen­try. So we de­vel­oped the L&H so­lar so­lu­tions. These are not re­stricted to so­lar, but also to al­ter­na­tive en­ergy such as wind. These are new mar­ket op­por­tu­ni­ties and there are dan­gers that the mar­ket may be flooded with in­fe­rior non-com­pli­ant im­ported prod­uct, how­ever the L&H em­pha­sis is to have a so­lu­tion pack­age that gives cus­tomers all they need in­clud­ing the com­fort in know­ing that the prod­uct sup­plied by L&H is fully com­pli­ant and reg­u­lated.”

De­spite some cow­boy prod­ucts en­ter­ing the mar­ket, Robin feels the in­dus­try still has a bright fu­ture.

“There will be chal­lenges in un­der­stand­ing new com­merce and e-com­merce, but again this is an op­por­tu­nity. It is an al­ter­na­tive way to do busi­ness, but we are do­ing busi­ness with the same people.”

An­other el­e­ment Robin is look­ing at to con­tinue to evolve the com­pany is the sup­ply chain.

“We need to im­prove our sup­ply chain. It is one of the things that goes hand-in-glove with our e-com­merce strat­egy. We want to bring safe prod­uct quicker to mar­ket and im­prove ac­ces­si­bil­ity to that prod­uct. As an in­dus­try we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that qual­ity safe prod­ucts are be­ing brought to mar­ket.”

Robin’s goal is in uni­son with that of L&H. It is to adapt to new trends and op­por­tu­ni­ties and to do that with tal­ented people, so that ev­ery­one grows. That abil­ity is what has made L&H a mar­ket leader for so long.

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