The shift to all-seater football grounds in the UK proved to be the catalyst for a move into new markets for Barnsley-based Metalliform.
And, unlike the educational market, until recently, stadium seating has been eminently exportable.
Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium, along with grounds in the Low Countries and Scandinavia and even camel racing tracks in the Middle East have installed the company’s stadium seating, along with clubs in the UK such as Manchester United and both Sheffield teams.
When Will Hinks joined the firm seven years ago, the focus was on winning substantial contracts.
“Jobs were few and far between and quite risky,” says Mr Hinks.
“We decided that a lower risk and better strategy would be not to chase the big jobs but to target middle sized contracts and below.”
Metalliform recruited a field salesman and he began knocking on clubs’ doors, seeing if they had any damaged seats that needed replacing, areas of their stands that might benefit from new seating or maintenance that needed doing.
The strategy worked. Within three years the firm had trebled the size of its stadiums business and the firm reckons that 80 per cent of the calls he makes result in business.
“The clubs have been delighted that someone was coming to call on them,” says Mr Hinks.
“The number of customers has grown enormously and we have secured business relationships with major clubs that we didn’t have a few years ago. Liverpool started with an order for 100 seats and now they are putting all their refurbishment work through us.”