I began working at IMI Truflo Marine, a Birmingham based manufacturing company with over 50 years experience in September 2015. Operating from the same site in Witton, Birmingham since 1962, IMI Truflo Marine specialise in the design and manufacture of high integrity ball valves for various applications including nuclear power stations, submarines and surface ships.
After getting my Professional Diploma in Direct and Digital Marketing, I saw this great opportunity to make best use of my newly found skills. Their sales manager had great vision, seeing the need to have an in-house marketing practitioner. They specifically chose me because I had a high-level marketing qualification and they picked up on my love of marketing at interview.
As their sales and marketing coordinator, I provided much needed assistance for the sales department while also taking a hands-on role helping IMI Truflo Marine to complete their transition to IMI’s new branding.
Quality Valves for Nuclear and Marine Applications
The quality and durability of their marine and nuclear ball valves is something that IMI Truflo Marine are extremely proud of. There are valves in the UK’s Heysham 2 and Torness power plants that were installed 40 years ago and are still in service today.
In relation to marine applications, IMI Truflo Marine currently have over 120,000 valves in operation worldwide. Employees openly express pride that their valves help make sure submariners from over 24 navies across the globe return home safely because of their valves.
Theodore’s IMI Truflo Marine Duties
My primary role at IMI Truflo Marine was to conduct marketing activities which support the internal and external sales teams. Macroeconomic and critical research on key markets for defence marine and civil nuclear market research.
Providing key marketing insight into these areas fed into my other marketing activities which included creating and updating brochures, data sheets and presentations used by IMI Truflo Marine’s sales teams to secure new business.
One of the most interesting things I did was writing and overseeing the creation of brochures, inserts, flyers, data sheets. This required a lot of research, studying internal documents and working with engineers who retained an immense amount of knowledge to make sure the documents I created were accurate. I would also make contributions to IMI’s group magazine.
After IMI Truflo Marine held a supply chain forum in October 2015, bringing together its companies and end users for networking, improvement and recognition of the good work that is being done every day.I collated feedback and images to create a testimonial, showcasing the great working relationships IMI Truflo Marine have created and continue to maintain.
Sales Supplier Product Knowledge
At the time of hiring, IMI Truflo Marine had the foresight to recognise they would need a full-time marketer to be part of the team and drive the growth of the business. To help integrate me into the business and grow a deeper product and customer knowledge, I also took on sales duties.
Part of his secondary role is to book the sales team into international conferences and events, providing them with the equipment needed to showcase IMI Truflo Marine’s pedigree. Such equipment can include stands, displays, examples of valves components for display purposes, brochures and promotional give-aways
Truflo Marine’s IMI Critical Engineering Re-brand
Truflo, as they were known up until 2014, are part of the international IMI group, a collection of engineering companies that work across various industries. To create a unified image and emphasise the great work each company within the group does, the Birmingham based IMI plc decided to re-brand all companies and define group divisions along the lines of Hydronic, Precision and Critical, the last of which is IMI Truflo Marine’s division.
The re-brand included changing all stationery, signs and uniforms. With these changes come the need to re-write many sales tools such as brochures and presentations.
One of my main tasks was to help IMI Truflo Marine through the final stages of the re-brand, verifying that all old branding has been replaced. Preparing the entire manufacturing facility was a large task and I even unearthed some very old branded books, magazines and promotional materials.
Lean Implementation Day
Once a month, IMI Truflo Marine hold a lean implementation day during which everyone in the business takes the time out to engage in activities that will make their job more efficient. During the November 2015 lean implementation day, I took the time to drop in on a few other departments and help tidy areas of the factory.
Lean implementation days provide a great opportunity for me to improve efficiency in the marketing department. That particular month, my efforts included completing a clearance and stock take of the marketing and exhibition supply store room and taking significant steps to complete its corporate re-brand.
The marketing cupboard was in need of an accurate stock take and organisation of its contents, so I completed the process and implemented a system for tracking the contents of the room including items for display, give-aways and sales literature. During the general tidy up of the room, I also discovered things that would be useful in other parts of the business, including health and safety signs that were put to use immediately.
A great example of why it’s important to take time out to tidy areas and keep them tidy. You might discover useful resources and have an accurate inventory.
Once work on the exhibition room was complete, I turned my attention to the factory floor. IMI Truflo Marine use large bins to collect swarf, extremely sharp metal waste created from the machining process so that it can be sent to be recycled. Check out this video below of swarf (not from IMI Truflo Marine) being disposed of. Many of the bins still display the old Truflo logo which must be replaced with the IMI Critical divisional logo.
Each of the bins were branded with old Truflo Marine logos, but needed to be updated and in time for future inspections. Although physically replacing the stickers is not necessarily a job for a marketing executive, I see the value in taking a front line role in marketing activities.
During a re-brand, it’s important to get everyone to buy into the process, so I updated the branding on all of the bins I could reach, demonstrating the importance of the task. As you can imagine, the swarf bins weigh a lot and are moved using fork lifts or pallet trucks. Their storage area makes it impossible to reach or move all of them and place the new stickers. I enlisted the help of team members who worked on the factory floor every day. They agreed to change the rest of the logos will be changed as soon as the bins are moved, exposing the old company logo.
I succesfully designed and installed a display in the canteen for my company IMI Truflo Marine, coordinating the project from start to finish.
The primary reason for the project was to improve the atmosphere of the staff canteen and boost staff morale. IMI Truflo Marine had previously absorbed IMI Components just over a year previous to the project and the image needed to represent the latest evolution of Truflo Marine.
Concept Design Process
I first looked at the available space, then opted for the wall upon which the display image would have the biggest impact.
The project was undertaken with local design agency Typecreative. They assessed the area and recommended a type of wallpaper resistant to bumps and scrapes. The paper they recommended is a bit thicker and more durable than regular wallpaper.
You can tell it is a quality product as soon as you see it. The extra thickness and lightly dimpled surface is more resistant to damage and less likely to show it over the course of its lifetime.
The design process involved me working closely with Typecreative to come up with a rough layout and source the images. I had to think of a way to represent all parts of the business and the varied products we produce.
In the end, the concept I went for is one that shows respect to all sides of our business. Having just one image would not fully convey the variety of products we produce and their multitude of applications.
Marine Defence and Civil Nuclear Team Capabilities
Our core competency is the production of high integrity ball valves, but our capabilities have lead to us working in two very distinct markets; Marine Defence and Civil Nuclear. For that reason, I decided to go with a split design in four quarters to represent all corners of our business.
Because the wallpaper was going to be displayed in the canteen, I wanted to show staff both the end product and the small part that they were contributing to the whole, to help remind them how critical their work is.
It can be discouraging to think that the process you undertake in your day-to-day work is meaningless. But in the worlds we operate, the smallest job is of the utmost importance because the failure of the smallest part can result in the loss of a submarine or a catastrophic nuclear event.
Sourcing Suitable Images
With a rough concept and a few images to work with, Typecreative advised on their suitability and refined the design. One of the biggest challenges was to source images that were of a high enough resolution to look good on a large wall.
I must say that I really appreciate the assistance the UK Ministry of Defence offered in providing an image database of their ships and submarines for PR purposes.
The final design featured both the end products IMI Truflo Marine contributed to and the components that ensured the safety and quality of those end products.
The iconic submarine HMS Astute had to be included in this project and is presented in the first quarter of the design. HMS Astute is probably the most visually exciting end product of the hull valves that we produce. The fourth quarter is a Type 45 warship. Accompanying the marine images were several of the valves we supply for that market.
To represent nuclear power valves and components, I included Britain’s Sizewell and Sweden’s Forsmark nuclear power stations, in the second and third quarters respectively, along with ball valves and components we have supplied and continue to supply to power stations.
The idea of showing the parts supplied wasn’t to be 100% accurate in terms of where the specific parts supplied were located in the vessels or powerstations, but to give a general representation of what we do.
From the concept and images I provided, Typecreative brought it all together, breathing life into the design.
I was really happy with the end result. I had just returned from the B2B Marketing Expo at the ExCel arena in London and it was a great feeling to see something I’d been working on come to life. Completing projects really fills me with pride and is one of the reasons I enjoy my job; to see the results of my hard work.
Away for two days and come back to a finished project! This is what I do pic.twitter.com/NBd8soROY6
— Theodore Bigby (@TheodoreBigby) May 13, 2016
After a challenging design process, the end result has taken pride of place in our canteen.
.I also renovated the reception area at IMI Truflo Marine which was sub-standard and unfit to be the entrance to such an amazing, forward-looking facility.
IMI Group Magazine Features
Over the course of several months, my work was featured in IMI plc’s group magazine which is designed to highlight achievements across the group of companies.
IMI Eye Magazine Issue 4
I was really happy that my written contribution ended up in the IMI Eye, IMI plc’s worldwide news magazine. There is a printed copy as well as a digital version which is seen and read by employees from all IMI divisions across the globe (Critical, Precision and Hydronic).
This particular entry (linked to above) is from the 4th Issue on 4th February 2016 and was featured on the inside cover as a highlight. The story is about the Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon. It was also featured on IMI Critical’s website and you can read that version here.
IMI Eye Magazine Issue 5
My work once again featured in IMI Critical’s magazine. This time, it was in issue 5 of the IMI Eye. This time, a picture I took was used for an article. Take a look at my image on page 8 in context of the magazine, though a representation of it can be seen below.
IMI Critical Website Feature
Engineering Technology And Innovation Article
Marketing also encompasses face-to-face work with customers, not only pushing your message out. It’s also about listening to customers and prospects to understand their needs, their goals, their wants and desires. An approach such as this always proves to be fruitful in the end as long as you put the new insights back into your marketing strategy.
An article I wrote about IMI Truflo Marine’s attendance of 2015’s Engineering Technology and Innovation Exhibition, held in Portsmouth, a hub for naval marine activity, was used on the IMI Critical website to highlight collaboration between group companies. The event was attended by two staff members from IMI Truflo Marine as well as a member of the IMI Orton team.
The article itself highlighted the benefit of having face-to-face contact with customers. Rather than dictating to customers, it’s much better for companies to learn more about their customers so they can serve them better.
Contact With End Users
IMI Truflo Marine provide products to customers that are most often primary contractors such as BAE Systems or national navies. What’s interesting to me is that I had always thought of customers as being the end user, but in this case, the end users are the seamen who operate IMI Truflo Marine’s valves and there isn’t always the opportunity to interact with them.
Because the exhibition attracts ‘many of BAE’s 106 apprentices, senior managers, fitters and maintenance staff’, it was a great opportunity to connect with what in other industries would have been the customer.
By having the opportunity to speak with end users, individuals involved in the construction and operation of submarines and surface ships, we could really understand their needs and learn how to better meet their needs in future. We could also give them tips on getting the best out of the equipment they were using as we sent an extremely experienced team.
Marketing isn’t all about sales and selling. It’s also about understanding and meeting customer needs.
— Theodore Bigby (@TheodoreBigby) August 12, 2016
I always try to remember this and tailor marketing strategies to understand the customer’s (and whenever they may be different, the end user’s) requirements and feed their needs back into my to the product to serve them better and my marketing to attract more customers like my best customers.
This blog post was last updated 2/2/23