JAMES WOOD, SALES DIRECTOR AT ARMORDUCT

James Wood is the Sales Director at Armorduct. Having started his career as an Electrical Engineer, James is able to bring hands-on design and installation experience to the world of cable containment, by partnering with customers to deliver project success no matter what the technical or commercial challenge.

 

How did you get started in the industry?

I started in 2009 as an apprentice Electrical Eng in the Building Management Systems (BMS) sector. I worked on control systems for steel manufacturers, installing and maintaining automation and control equipment for the steel production process, so I’ve actually worked in all the major UK sheet steel manufacturing companies. I stayed in that business for 10 years, but started looking at other roles in associated industries. I moved into selling bespoke enclosures for Motor Control switchboards which I felt was a good combination of my knowledge and experience but it was a big adjustment for me to shift into a sales role.

As I adapted and began to think about new challenges I met the team at Armorduct and decided to jump into a newly created internal sales role. That was in 2016 and it’s been an amazing journey since then!

Tell us about Armorduct.

Armorduct are part of the Hudson Cable Management Group, together with our sister companies RMS and Milton. We’re one of the last remaining independent cable management manufacturers in the UK, producing trunking, tray, basket and underfloor cable containment solutions. We supply to the industry through our network of local and national electrical wholesalers, but we liaise directly with M&E contractors and consultants in terms of the specification and design elements for a project.

What is your role within Armorduct?

I became UK Sales Director for Armorduct in September 2023. Prior to that I was the National Accounts Manager, having spent a few years as Area Sales Manager for the East Midlands, but I started with an internal sales role back in 2016.

How long has your company been in business?

Armorduct were founded in 1998 and so we’ve been trading for 26 years this year – we started off making specialist steel trunking solutions, but our product range has expanded hugely since then on the back of projects with our customers.

What is your Unique Selling Point?

Our USP is really how we deal with the more challenging requirements that inevitably crop up with every project installation. I guess you’d call them ‘specials’ as they’re certainly not your typical ‘pick-from-a-catalogue’ products, and they’re something we’ve got lots of experience with. They can range from a simple modification on a standard product to a completely new bespoke design to cater for difficult routing or security issues.

When it comes to working with our customers on projects, we don’t shy away from problems, as helping to solve them has benefits all round. Firstly, we gain closer working relationships with our customers by delivering successful projects. This helps secure future business and also builds our reputation in the industry. Secondly, many of the special products developed become part of our portfolio which helps showcase our experience and expertise as a solutions provider. Of course, none of this can happen without our UK-based design team who interact directly with customers during the product design process.

What types of products and services do you offer?

Armorduct manufacture a portfolio of cable management solutions for the rail industry. We have product ranges for cable basket, cable tray and cable trunking, as well as underfloor solutions, available in all the standard industry sizes and materials. Where we differ from most of our competitors is that we also offer almost everything in-between. Special shapes, sizes, fixings, compartments, converters, couplers and materials. All that comes from our legacy of working on projects with customers who need fast and flexible solutions to the problems they encounter on a job. Our engineering team can turn a sketch into a physical sample in 24 hours and we can supply certified, manufactured parts in high volumes within days. We can offer solutions for every environment – be that highly corrosion resistant materials (Stainless Steel, GRP, Magnelis), or highly secured, tamper-proof installations in public spaces.

What are some standout projects you’ve been involved in over the years?

We’ve supported a huge variety of projects in the rail industry. Crossrail has probably seen our single biggest involvement, where we’ve supplied cable management solutions for numerous London Underground (LUL, now TfL) and Network Rail installations as part of the extensive overall project. We also supported the Northern Line Extension, supplying some of our most innovative and technically complex cable trunking products. We’ve worked on DLR projects and we’re now in the midst of design and development work where we’ve been specified for HS2 on a number of jobs.

When a client comes to you with a particular problem, what’s your process for coming up with a solution, and how closely do you work with clients throughout the projects?

This is where things get exciting for us! When we get a call from a client about a problem, instead of just trying to palm them off with another part from the catalogue, we see it as an opportunity for Armorduct to get involved and share the success of fixing things… Working together to sort out a problem builds trust, friendships, reputation, new products and long-lasting relationships – everything you need for mutual success! This usually means site visits and getting our technical teams connected for some creative thinking to get a practical solution fast. It’s where we excel for UK projects as we can be on-site and on-hand the same day if necessary.

Every problem tends to be different, but being blessed with the luxury of having a full turn-key product development team at our disposal usually means we can deal with anything. Challenge accepted!

How do you work with the supply chain within this sector?

Meeting the required specifications for rail industry projects is essential. This is really where our supply chain work starts in this sector, which means we will liaise with the authorities responsible for overall system design to understand all the necessary regulations. Once we have this information, we will then engage with the contractors tendering for the project to discuss options designed to meet the dictated specifications.

As with every project, we work with the contractors to arrive at a solution which meets the spec, at the right cost. And when I say cost, I mean cost in terms of labour resource, finance budget, installation longevity and, to a much greater extent now, improved sustainability. Every supply chain everywhere is being tasked to deliver in a more planet-friendly way, and it’s why we’re switching over to greener steel, more sustainable finishes and coatings, and running more of our manufacturing facilities on renewable energy. We’re also being asked
more frequently to provide embodied carbon equivalents for our products and processes to demonstrate our green credentials.

In many ways, sustainability regulations are now becoming another ticket to the game, in much the same way as compliance to electrical standards, and it’s something we have embraced throughout the business. The supply of our products to the end user is handled through our electrical wholesaler partnerships.

We work with contractors through an agreed, nominated wholesale partner to provide end-to-end customer service in terms of stock and deliveries, as well as technical support. As we mentioned previously, the vast majority of jobs encounter unexpected issues at some point, and so site visits by our team help to deliver solutions for a successful project.