Taplanes are a true Yorkshire based business, founded in the North near Harrogate. We have been a British born manufacturer since 1979, who have continued to grow our shower and bathroom product ranges ever since. The business now supplies businesses as far afield as Africa and Antarctica.
The company is committed to growth, with a team of designers and craftsmen and women who are all just as dedicated to creating tailored and bespoke experiences, regardless of the type of business.
Recently, our work has been recognised by the local business community, as Taplanes has been shortlisted in the Made in Yorkshire 2021 awards. The company is recognised within the Sustainable and Ethical Manufacturer category.
The company is incredibly proud to have been recognised with other outstanding businesses in the field and are incredibly pleased that their commitment to sustainability is appreciated within the community.
At Taplanes, all modular shower cubicles and bathroom pods are manufactured from 100% recyclable polypropylene and built with recycled materials integrated. Not only are they recyclable, but also remain durable and reliable, making them the perfect green alternative to traditional building methods. Not only is this great for the environment, but also makes more sense for labourers, as maintenance is greatly reduced, and replacement materials are not required over time as they would be otherwise.
To celebrate this achievement, we caught up with our directors to ask them a little more about what the last year or so has looked like for them prior to this recognition.
We asked Tracey, MD and Jon, Director, for their thoughts…
How would you say the company has changed over the past couple of years given the circumstances?
Prior to Covid, we decided to change the shift pattern to four days a week in the factory to improve the working week for the staff and to reduce our environmental impact compared to operating on a 5 day basis. As a result of Covid, we enforced strict health and safety measures to guarantee everyone could keep working safely and fulfil necessary requirements. Whilst 2020 was quieter than usual, 2021 is making up for it, with everyone wanting bathrooms and shower pods as soon as possible.
We are a bespoke manufacturer which means that when projects came to a halt due to Covid, business dropped. To tackle this, we focused our efforts on designing ‘standard’ products which can be designed once and sold many times. This led to investing in building a product configurator to automate some of the design processes, reduce the design/technical office bottleneck and increase capacity.
This has seen us bring new products to market such as our anti-ligature pod, which is aimed at the secure hospital and prison market, Dignity Pods which assist people who wish to remain living independently in their homes and cycle pods which encourage cycling to work.
What have Taplanes done to actively improve/build the business in the past year or so?
Our growth plans have included looking at developing the organisation, growing our reputation within the modular building sector, increasing capacity and operational efficiencies, growing our routes to market, growing and diversifying our customer base and sectors we operate in, and last but not least, growing the skills of our employees.
Reviewing our manufacturing methods have also allowed us to make more use of lean techniques, automation and developments in modern methods of manufacturing. This will make us more cost-effective, more responsive and establish good foundations for growth.
Our Production Manager, Jasmine Taylor is leading in these improvements, supported by our Graduate Project Manager, Catherine Wicks. Bringing young engineers into the business has been a great move for Taplanes. We started our Graduate Programme in 2019 and our first 2 graduates have now completed their first 2 years and become valuable members of the Taplanes team – Ria Markides is a talented designer who now works as a Specification Engineer and Dominic Matthews is another designer who is helping to manage the growing technical team. We have taken on another 2 graduates to the scheme this year. Combining the energy and enthusiasm of our graduates with our experienced staff, many of whom have been with the business for over 15 years (some over 30 years) is a perfect combination for growth.
We have also been looking into getting a new CNC machine which will greatly speed up manufacturing. To complement the improvement and innovation in product design and manufacturing, we are looking at investing in training, upskilling/multiskilling our workforce, culture and wellbeing – making sure that Taplanes is a good place to work.
We have also been reviewing the markets that we sell in – currently, our main customer base is within the education sector. We are now focusing on developing our presence in other sectors by tailoring our products and the customer experience to suit those products. Other new markets include the adaptations & assisted living market – our Dignity Pod bathroom assists in people remaining independent in their homes for longer. By creating a network of approved installers, we can sell to the domestic markets without having to enter into the B2C transaction – as we will sell direct to building contractors/installers.
The aim for our 20/21 financial year isn’t to survive COVID-19, it is to innovate, transform and thrive, both financially and culturally.
What would you say sets your company apart from your competitors?
We recognise that there is more security through reliability, and with our 25-year guarantee and a hugely robust and forgiving product, customers see our value.
Our products are both recycled and recyclable. 80% of our construction is in Recyclable Polypropylene, 10% is recycled Polypropylene and the rest is internal components (WC, WHB, Shower Valve, Lights etc.).
Our products are also reusable and can be lifted and shifted between locations.
Most importantly, why are you proud to be a Yorkshire based business?
We love helping the area to grow, bringing jobs to quite a remote part of England, we are proud to support other strong Yorkshire brands like Bettys, visitors are often given fat rascals when they come to site or a bottle of Slingsby gin.
It is clear that Taplanes are continuing to go from strength to strength despite the uncertainty of the pandemic and we’re sure that regardless of the outcome of the awards they will remain highly successful. We’re wishing Taplanes the best of luck in the Made in Yorkshire awards and we’ll be looking forward to all the photos from the Awards Ceremony on Thursday the 29th July.