SFA National Business Awards Case Study: TopForm

Image of TopForm managing director, John Flannery at the SFA National Small Business Awards 2015.

EVERY serious company dreams about progressing their business.

And an SFA National Small Business Awardis something that can certainly help in this regard.

For TopForm, a Creative Worktop solutions company, this award came as an unexpected but very warmly received boost to the Galway-based company.

John Flannery, Managing Director of TopForm, reflects on the period running up to award season.

He says: “We’ve been a member of the SFA for some time and as the award season comes about every year, we certainly take notice. We weren’t very confident when we first applied but once we went through the process, we started to believe this was something we could achieve.”

“What we’d achieved in our business was actually very good, we had a great story to tell and I think your confidence grows as you go through the process.”

John adds: “AIB offer support in many ways, especially in suggesting that we participate in award ceremonies or in programmes that would assist our business and give us better exposure than we have today.”

TopForm are located in Gort, County Galway, with 47 employees. A creative worktop solutions company, they design and manufacture worktops for the kitchen and bathroom market and the leisure industry, which includes mobile homes and caravans.

Already popular with customers both here in Ireland and abroad, John says winning the award has given the business further opportunities.

He explains: “Winning the award has had a positive impact on the business, with noticeable feedback throughout many aspects of the business from staff moral to suppliers.”

“It felt great to win the award, I think anything that recognises the efforts of the business, our suppliers and customers is something that should be celebrated. It puts a smile on everybody’s face.”

John adds: “When our customers see this, they start to think ‘Wow’, I’ve made the right buying decision by buying from TopForm.”

“Our suppliers are also far more confident of the activities we are getting involved in and supportive of our new initiatives.”

He adds: “They see external verification of what TopForm do, we’re the best at what we do and suppliers would like to be involved in companies like that.”

With a growing business in County Galway, TopForm are focused on supplying the export market as well.

John explains: “Exporting plays a huge role in our business. Approximately 40% of our turnover is in the export market. We export primarily to the UK and we also have a large business in Australia and New Zealand.”

“One of the challenges we face in exporting is the effect of currency fluctuations. In some markets in order for us to break into them, we are forced to trade in the local currency. For obvious reasons, that creates huge challenges and is quite unstable.”

“We rely on the experts in AIB to really guide us on the best exchange rates that are available and to guide us through the process on currency exchange when it maximises its value for TopForm.”

Despite the challenges, TopForm are firmly focused on building out new markets.

With the UK, Australia and New Zealand already large markets, John says France is the next stop for the Irish company.

He explains: “The next step for us is to look at where else we can leverage the success that we’ve had in the UK mobile home market. We found that the next biggest market for us in in France.

“We’ve had great success in more far reaching countries. We’ve now set about our due diligence of looking at the French market and at what we can do to build a value proposition that would be attractive to the mobile home industry in France.”

Exciting times for the company, John recommends that SMEs across the country should consider entering the SFA National Small Business Awards to promote their business.

He says: “In the last year, I feel the profile of our business has risen and risen quite sharply.”

“There is very good publicity around participating in such an award. All of our products, when they leave the factory, are now branded as an SFA winner.”

“We never looked at entering in the past, but we took the decision to enter and the rest as they say is history.”

Find out more about TopForm and theSFA National Small Business Awards. The SFA Awards are taking place on the 3rd of March with 32 finalists from across the country taking part, keep up to date by following@AIBBizon Twitter and join the conversation using #SFAAwards2016.