Welcome to IKO 2019

Gary Lowe, Kevin Green and Ray Taylor

For over one hundred years, IKO has produced solutions for flat roofs, pitched roofs and the waterproofing industry. Now, IKO offer insulation solutions to compliment this range of systems. So who are the people who ensure our business continues to meet our customers’ needs every single day?

Learning on the Job

Despite their youth, engineering apprentices Adam and Alex have a key role to play in ensuring all the equipment on IKO’s production line is fully functioning.

“Every day is different – I’ll come in tomorrow and I don’t know what I’ll be doing. It’s much better than being sat in a classroom four days a week, it’s something new every day,” say the apprentices.

They were recruited from an apprentice open evening at their local college and haven’t looked back since. “Something stood out about IKO – they were friendlier, more open and welcoming. Everyone at IKO is really open and they are always very willing to help us progress as engineers. The older generation at IKO really are passing the baton down to us.”

Learning isn’t something that’s just confined to apprentices at IKO – the company is passionate about continuous development, no matter what stage someone is at in their career. Tony Riley, Production Team Leader explained: “We undergo a lot of training at IKO; it’s essential. Often, we travel to other parts of the world to visit IKO plants and learn from them.”

Collette Burton, Purchasing Team Leader has undertaken six professional qualifications since joining IKO. She said: “It’s a really nice company to work for. IKO always look to progress staff from within.”

Kate Wilcox, IKO’s Head of Finance has also benefitted from the company’s laser focus on learning and development. She has risen through the ranks from trainee accountant to management level. Kate said: “IKO has paid for all of my training and other members of staff as well; they invest in their people and are rewarded for it. At IKO I feel valued, part of the team and because of that we all see the bigger picture. It makes you feel part of the company.”

Focus on the Customers

At the end of the day, it’s what the customers think which is what matters most to IKO. This runs through all areas of the business, from the boardroom to the production line.

Helen Wignall, Customer Services Manager, who first joined IKO as maternity cover and has now been with the company for eight years explained: “At IKO we have a real family feel and this is reflected onto our customers. I have a great relationship with my customers, it’s a relationship that has developed with trust over time. I love that I can come to work and help solve customer problems, making sure they are happy with the service we give them.”

Amy Earlam, Research and Development Chemist added: “Dealing with customer complaints is essential, it means I can make sure the laboratory reflects what the customer needs. The testing of raw materials is a fun part of my job, it gives us an up-to-date idea of what’s happening on the production line to keep product quality high. Making sure we identify any problems the customer might have before it leaves the factory is essential.”

Supporting the British economy is also very important to IKO. Collette Burton Purchasing Team Leader, comments: “We try to buy materials from within the UK where ever possible, that keeps prices down for our customers.”

Keeping Everyone Safe

Jon Pickup has one of the most important roles at IKO.  As Group Occupational Health, Safety and Environmental Manager, he has a simple philosophy: “When I leave for work my family fully expect that at the end of the day I will return and that I’m safe at my workplace. We all share that responsibility to make it the same for every employee., We can all benefit from this but we all need to work together to achieve it.”

In 2018, IKO UK witnessed a 24% reduction in injuries across all sites and over the past three years, there has been a 65% decrease in time lost due to injuries sustained at work. The focus now, Jon says, is understanding why people can sometimes make decisions which can put them at risk, as well as promoting the habit of carrying out tasks the safest way rather than what seems to be the easiest way.

The Bigger Picture

Kevin Green, UK Manufacturing Manager for Bituminous Membranes, reflects on the overall company culture: “IKO is run as a family business; they aren’t planning for two years but the next 10-15. The IKO family are manufacturers at heart; they know exactly what we need and are proactive in planning for the future.”

It’s that focus on planning for the future which led to the decision to make some big changes to the company structure. Restructuring is never easy and there is a risk employees might become alienated. However, with clear communication and remaining true to their core values, IKO has been able to manage the process effectively.

Collette Burton summarised: “We’ve had a few changes at IKO but it means we can streamline everything now which has such a positive impact on our customers.”

To summarise, Helen Wignall added: “There has been a great change in perception and attitude at IKO, I’m really looking forward to see what 2019 has in store for us”.