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inCONVERSATION with Nick Grey and GTech

Many people talk about cutting the cord, breaking free and striking out on their own. Nick Grey, the inspirational founder of GTech has done just that.

After working at domestic appliance company VAX, Nick was surprised that the humble vacuum cleaner was the only household product that was still being moved from room to room and had to be tethered to the wall by a cord in order to obtain its power. He decided it was time for it to ‘break free’ and developed his first cordless power sweeper in 2001. 

Fast forward from their relatively humble beginnings based on a farm in Spetchley, to today and their beautiful new home in North Worcester and what you find is that continued innovation has seen GTech apply its cordless technology to an expanded product portfolio, resulting in the sales of over 22 million products in 19 countries.

WINN was invited along to GTech to see how innovation is at the very core of everything that they do and to tour their stunning premises. 

“We design and create innovative cordless products, that make life a little bit easier”, greets you as you enter the GTech showroom. It’s clean high tech lines and white aesthetic appears to have taken influence from latest developments in retail design, akin more how smart phones are sold as opposed to domestic products. However, the showroom is not just for show, products can be tried out and evaluated to ensure they meet customers’ expectations.

…It’s clean high tech lines and white aesthetic appears to have taken influence from latest developments in retail design…

The showroom also proudly displays their Queen’s Award for Innovation that they were awarded in 2015. As the text on this award states, it was presented for “Recognising the outstanding achievement in the application of innovation in Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. So what is so innovative about GTech?

They have taken cordless technology, which allowed their initial power sweeper product to be used without the annoyance of a trailing cable and applied to it a range of domestic products. These include a range of vacuum cleaners, garden tools and even now an electric bike. GTech see themselves as a technology company with core expertise in cordless power and they apply that technology across diverse market sectors.

Allowing domestic products to ‘break free’ from their cords was the inspiration behind their iconic TV advert, where a troupe of dancers elegantly moved about their cleaning duties with the cordless AirRam, with the notable exception of one dancer who was still tethered to the past. Utilising the skills of leading choreographer - and enthusiastic AirRam owner - Arlene Phillips and backed by the Queen song, “I want to break free” placed GTech high up in the public consciousness for a company that is leading making good on their promises to improve our lives. 

…It is brave to move into the highly competitive world of domestic cleaning products - which boast names we are all familiar with…

One of the innovations of the AirRAM products that has also assisted in its success is shortening the distance that the dirt collected from the floor must travel. As opposed to sending it up a long tube and into a receptacle, which takes considerable power, the AirRAM moves it from the cleaning head to a small adjacent waste container. It compacts it here into small bales that can be easily disposed of. The short distance it travels uses less power, so on a full charge the AirRAM can conceivably clean an entire modest sized property. 

It is brave to move into the highly competitive world of domestic cleaning products - which boast names we are all familiar with - but GTech is also competing in the garden equipment market, with its cordless lawn mower, hedge trimmers and grass trimmers. Not satisfied with this they are also competing in the developing market for electric bikes, with their eBike range. This is a company whose unrelenting development programme understands how their core technology can enhance people’s lives and therefore does not wish to restrict itself to a single market sector. 

GTech is also innovating around the customer experience of their products and have recently shifted to a direct sales model. In the past they had been selling their products through many of the well known high street chains, however as Nick pointed out this means that the benefits of the GTech solutions are rarely fully explained. Added to which the margins that are offered to the resellers are often used to discount the products. Hence now you can buy from GTech direct, via the phone or their website. 

A customer can now talk directly to GTech sales staff, engineers and the customer support team. As they say on their website “Our mission is to provide the best loved floor-care and garden products in the world” and they want customers to enjoy their GTech products as much as they enjoy designing, manufacturing and supporting them.

The innovation at GTech also goes beyond the products and is applied to the well being of employees. Something that can always conjure up the idea of indoor slides and bright colours like some sort of Californian technology start up, but no, GTech with its refined elegance of relaxing soft colours, clean lines and plenty of natural light, provide their employees with onsite wellness centre. Here let off steam using the vast array of fitness equipment, or perhaps find some meditative quiet time in order to break through a mental block. If a more outdoor pursuit is needed then they have their own cycle track on site, which is used for customers to evaluate the eBike range, but can equally be used by employees to get some fresh air and outdoor exercise.

…the innovation at GTech also goes beyond the products and is applied to the well being of employees…

Nick Grey continues to lead the company with a calm confidence and robust planning. Approachable, open and willing to be challenged by his development teams he is inspiring to spend time with. Many will recognise him as he appears in the TV commercials and the Infomercials for the GTech products. This Bransonesque approach to marketing is a hallmark of his continued hands on approach and desire to express the benefits of the cordless technology that underpins their success.

It is impossible not to be inspired by GTech. The innovations that they have applied to every aspect of their company would usually be associated with companies that are perhaps more at home located in Silicon Valley, or the high tech centres of the Far East, not necessarily Worcestershire. They prove that innovation is a mindset and can be applied to any product, to any business sector and any aspect of a company. 

They are an inspiration to us all.

For more information on GTech, head to their website at : gtech.co.uk

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WINN brings innovators together, acting as a catalyst to create connections and collaborations across the diverse business landscape of Worcestershire.

Our belief is that great things can happen when people get together.

WINN is a Worcestershire Innovation Programme formed by Worcestershire County Council and the Worcestershire LEP

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