Besseges (Valves, Tubes and Fittings) Ltd opened for business in the last quarter of 1988 as a trade counter business; working from James Howe Mill in Ashton under Lyne. In the early days we were better known as a supplier of pipeline material to the fire protection industry; than the process steam supplier who started out selling Spirax Sarco products. The business began to grow, and our present Managing Director saw we needed fresh staff in warehousing and a sales engineer on the road.
The present management team working with the Managing Director are the same two people who joined the business in 1989 and watched it grow to what it is today; both are shareholders and an integral part of this successful business. This of course does not detract from the fantastic sales team we have and our excellent warehouse team who are led by our warehousing and logistics Director. Our story of how we became a TLV distributor and the growth into a leading process steam specialist began in 1989.
Spirax Sarco Questions and Training
Our first brush with process steam began when we started supplying local textile factories and dye houses with pipework and fittings for steam distribution lines. We had already done some work with Spirax Sarco and supplied a few steam traps and sight checks to these businesses. As we became more involved and site engineers began to ask more specific questions; it was time to learn more about the products.
This prompted us, like many at the time to take up the Spirax Sarco hot water heating and steam utilisation correspondence courses. After many years of working with valves this prompted a very personal interest in process steam; and there we were selling steam products to more and more businesses from Spirax Sarco. This continued for almost ten years, with us having a reasonably good relationship with Spirax and their local representative at the time.
Spirax Sarco, a change for the worst
In the early 1990s Spirax Sarco appointed a new engineer to cover our area and the gentleman we had dealt with for several years was promoted to area manager. For a brief period, we had a good relationship with the new man, this was until we asked him directly for assistance on a site job.
What followed next was to change our business for years to come, in 1999 we did look to the Spirax Sarco man to visit one of our customers to access a larger than usual steam installation. We spent several weeks working with Spirax on the work required to complete the customers installation. They then sent us a quote and we then sent that on to our customer, the thing to note here was the fact that we had invited Spirax Sarco to work with us on this installation.
We waited for our customer to come back to us with the expected order as we had been informed that this was likely. What followed was a huge shock, a phone call to the customer just following up the quote; was greeted with, we have a better price. They had received a quotation that was a full 15% cheaper than the one we had offered for the same material. As a business we were amazed that this could have been done, considering this was more than Spirax Sarco had offered ourselves in discount.
The truth was that the engineer that had been invited to quote with us for the traps and control valves required; had gone direct to our customer and undercut us. So, having wasted several calls and hours quoting, our business lost the order to Spirax Sarco, the business we had trusted to work with us.
Spirax Sarco the end and a New Beginning
Following this we obviously decided that dealing with Spirax Sarco was not in the best interest of our business. We made the decision to explain to the Spirax engineer involved that we felt he no longer needed to call at our premises in Ashton under Lyne. As luck would have it a fine gentleman by the name of Peter Newton contacted us from TLV in the UK; and although he never confirmed this at the time. I believe he had heard about our last interaction with Spirax; and TLV were looking for a distributor in the Northwest of England.
Peter an ex Merchant Navy Engineer was a real breath of fresh air, he did what became a norm for him when demonstrating the TLV Free Float Steam Trap to our sales team. He attached a balloon to an orifice outlet and showed us how an almost perfect stainless-steel sphere prevented the loss of any air from the balloon. The whole presentation of the TLV steam trap range took about an hour; and throughout it the orifice and the balloon remained on our boardroom table. There was no apparent loss of air from the balloon and our journey into becoming an authorised TLV distributor began.
Spirax Sarco and their Decline in our Customer Base
What followed over the next few years was a hectic learning curve for myself and all our sales team. We attended the TLV Introductory Training Course in September 1999, with myself and our current Sales Director travelling to Germany; where we learned the basics of process steam and steam trap management. Following this two years later our sales office staff attended the introductory course and can deal with much of the sales traffic that is processed by our office team.
Further courses have been completed by myself and one other member of staff including the TLV Distributors seminar in 2015 and this year I attend the first TLV Advanced Steam Course with one of our valued customers. This new and intensive learning curve covers topics that include sizing flash recovery equipment and thermos-compressors.
The collective knowledge gained by various members of our sales and technical team have increased our influence across the Northwest of England; and with many of our existing customers, they have little or no Spirax Sarco equipment on their sites. On some sites the only Spirax equipment present are the steam boiler controls and this year we can offer a high-quality alternative to even these products.
Whatever your process steam requirements, Besseges (Valves, Tubes & Fittings) Ltd can assist your business with TLV products from steam traps to control valves, condense recovery systems, heat exchangers, flash recovery systems and thermos-compressors.
Where there are gaps in our knowledge we have the support of the excellent TLV design team based in Cheltenham, with the added advantage of having a technical manager who can assess your needs on site in most circumstances; contact us today for more information.
Spirax Sarco there is always an alternative
We aren’t saying that Spirax Sarco products are in any way inferior to other steam ancillary manufacturers. We are saying though that we know that since our move away from them we have increased our business on steam products year on year. Besseges (Valves, Tubes & Fittings) Ltd have become recognised as a leading process steam specialist across the region we are based in.
Throughout the Manchester and Lancashire area we are well known for assisting businesses with process steam issues and problems. The events that lead us to be a TLV Authorised Distributor have helped shape our business. I suppose in a way we can be thankful to the actions of the Spirax Sarco engineer in the early 1990s. As we may have missed a wonderful opportunity to forward our business and become synonymous with TLV and process steam; we look forward to hearing your responses to this our latest Blog.