Hamilton Celebrates Half A Century

Ian Hamilton discusses Hamilton-litestat's journey through the ages as it marks 50 years – and how the company aims to maintain its momentum into the next 50 years.

Where did the Hamilton story begin?

In Teddington, London, back in the late 1960s, my father Rod Hamilton sold one of the first wall plate dimmers. Back then, the company was all about dimming. My father could see a space in the market and sought to provide for the demand. Over the years, the company moved into more advanced lighting control and home automation technology. And, while building the company’s reputation for flexible, stylish and high-quality electrical wiring accessories, we have evolved our smart control proposition to create an innovative and highly-competitive range of lighting control and multi-room audio control systems that fulfil the demands of today’s tech-savvy customer.

This development has come about by working alongside our customers and developing bespoke solutions, giving us the experience and knowledge to develop totally integrated solutions for lighting and audio. I’m proud to say that through all the industry changes and economic pressures, we have remained a family-run UK business with a loyal team of talented people.

How have your customers changed over the past 50 years?

As with all manufacturers, we are totally dependent upon the supply chain and the relationships within this. We’ve seen both our wholesale and installer customer base grow significantly – and it’s this growth that has resulted in our recent expansion to our facilities in Bristol. We continue to work hard to help both parties in their needs and particularly when projects get a little tricky.

We’ve also seen our customer base grow as interior designers and property developers have sought our products. Obviously, the conversation is very different to our installer customer base. The design and finish of wiring accessories has entered onto the interior projects brief and often a designer will want a bespoke solution. We’re able to provide this service, with short production runs being a particular strength of Hamilton’s. We are keen to demonstrate our commitment to designers and joined the British Institute of Interior Design (BiiD) as an Industry Partner.

Do you have a highlight from your time as managing director that makes you particularly proud?

There are so many! But one that particularly stands out was in 2015. We entered a recognised industry trade award for the first time with the launch of our LEDstat dimmer. We were selected as a finalist and although we received a commendation and didn’t win, at the awards evening the whole room gave a really welcoming cheer when Hamilton’s name was read out. That’s when I knew the Hamilton brand had earned respect from its peers in what is generally agreed to be a very crowded marketplace.

But in addition to this, one thing that means an awful lot to me personally is the loyalty and length of service our employees have given to us. Many have been working for Hamilton almost since the business started, and some agreed to stay with us when our headquarters moved to Bristol. That loyalty is really valued and is what makes our staff the best in the business – we know they truly care.

What about the future? What’s to come in the next 50 years?

In preparation for the next 50 years, Hamilton has undergone an expansion and restructure. We’ve developed our Bristol site into a turnkey production, sales and distribution centre and grown our sales team to deliver an even higher level of customer service. The new Customer Contact Centre now handles all enquiries, while we also have our new Centre of Excellence, which incorporates our engineering, design and manufacturing services. This – along with expanding our technical design team – is helping us to develop new products that not only look good but also deliver the latest technology demanded of today’s smart devices in a 24/7 connected society. We’re also growing our customised product capabilities and bespoke solutions to provide more flexibility for our customers.

How will you continue to support your customers?

Our customers have always been at the heart of everything we do. Without them we wouldn’t have made it to 50 years, let alone be preparing for the next 50. We aim to continue to evolve, to expand our products and stay ahead of the curve with technology and solutions. We will always put our customer support and education programmes first.

We’re investing in training for both the current and future generations of installers. We’re running free smart control courses for installers, while also providing smart control training equipment to those working towards their qualifications in colleges to ensure the health of our customer base for the next 50 years. Additionally, we continue to support our wholesale customers and in 2019 we will add two new Mobile Demonstration Vehicles (MDVs) to our fleet. We’ve been running Contractor Days for some time with our existing MDV, but the new additions will mean we can better respond to the increasing requests to attend Contractor Days, both in the north and south of the country.

So, 50 years old… where’s the party?!

Ha! It’s always a party at Hamilton! But in all seriousness, we decided that there’s no better way to celebrate the success of 50 years than by giving back to the local community. We therefore decided to hold a charity bike ride on September 6-7. The gruelling 110-mile route began at Hamilton’s original home in Teddington, London, and headed west to its current headquarters in Brislington, Bristol, where the company has been manufacturing for some years. As well as representing the journey the company’s taken, we also raised funds for the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, so was a way for us to also support a very worthy local cause.

We can’t wait to celebrate our next anniversary and continue to support our customers during the next 50 years.

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