Almost 10 years have elapsed since I acquired WH Kemp. Whilst it goes without saying I should leave it to others to judge my tenure of the Company thus far, I would like to think my particular style of business ownership has been, and indeed will continue to be, synonymous with fairness, transparency and honesty.
Talking of honesty, it is purported George Orwell once said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Whether the great novelist and essayist really did say this is a matter of conjecture. Nonetheless – and at the risk of sounding as self-righteous as a modern-day politician – it’s a phrase that strikes a chord with me. Perhaps never more so than in today’s troubling world.
Orwell died in 1950. If indeed it was him who felt sufficiently provoked – incensed even – by the behaviour of early 20th century society, to brand it with the somewhat damning epithet of ‘universal deceit’, what would he have made of today’s societal ecosystem of – and let’s be honest – contrivance, political spin, fake news, slick public relations, online disinformation and what clearly is a growing inability on the part of many to apologise for even the smallest of misdemeanours?
Which brings me to the point of this posting: I want to hold up my hands. Confess. Plead guilty. Make an honest declaration. Emulate an Orwellian ‘revolutionary act’ even!
Those of you fully cognizant with WH Kemp, including customers and suppliers, and/or regular visitors to our website, will already be aware of our sector-leading manufacturing quality and delivery performance stats. Our reputation for achieving consistently high (98%+) RFT and (99.9%+) OTIF scores has long been the envy of the Cable Assembly, Control Panel & Box Build and Potting industries. And in turn, probably a key factor why WH Kemp has achieved its 100% customer retention record, as well as counting amongst its customer base, global engineering giants and some of the UK’s leading Advanced Manufacturers.
However, as I say I do need to come clean: During the recent ‘dark age’ – as defined by Covid-19 with the tumult of national lockdowns it triggered – WH Kemp’s performance achievements dropped occasionally below our usual high 98%+ OTIF norms. Now, you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say I am not attempting to spin this admission, but, and despite the world chaos of a two-year pandemic, at least our OTIF levels did not dip below 91% in any month.
How was this possible? After all it was a period universally recognised to have been the most challenging and alarming for decades? Answer: Our People. Our Processes. Our Procedures. Our Investment.
I’m proud to say WH Kemp did not miss a single day of production during the pandemic ‘dark age.’ By implementing strict Covid-19 safety procedures, including a reconfiguration of workstations and production machinery – one of the advantages of having a modern, adaptable 25,000 sq. ft. factory space – our brilliant team felt sufficiently safe to continue working on site. I cannot thank WH Kemp’s people enough for the loyalty, dedication, indeed bravery, that they showed, in order not to let down our customers.
Investment also played its part. At the outset of the Covid crisis, the temptation could have been to cut costs, hunker down, decide to ride out the storm. Instead, and anticipating future supply chain shortages, my colleagues and I elected to purchase additional machinery and build-up – double in fact – our stocks of raw materials – a reflection of WH Kemp’s financial stability. Our ever-vigilant attention to financial planning processes enabled us to future-proof difficult trading conditions. By absorbing costs internally and continuing to invest, we were able to support and facilitate our customers’ manufacturing schedules and targets, and ensure they enjoyed price consistency.
Given the context of my comments above, my second confession herein can only be described as ironic: Soon after the Government’s relaxation of Covid restrictions earlier this year, unfortunately the WH Kemp workforce was hit by a Covid spike. Thankfully, those affected did recover quickly and are well. There were times during this past spring when we were operating with a third less staff. Inevitably production was affected, and for the first time in decades our delivery performance scores dropped below our own demanding KPIs; in fact, below our pandemic average of 95%.
I have already apologised personally to those customers affected over those three months, but in keeping with my personal style of ownership, I am placing that admission here on record. Whether George Orwell would have called this ‘a revolutionary act’ I don’t know, but it is just one example of WH Kemp’s unswerving commitment to transparency.
Oh yes, and by the way, I would wish everyone to know that WH Kemp’s post pandemic performance aberration was short-lived – from late March to mid June. We are now back on track aiming to exceed 98% OTIF scores this month.