2017 was expected to be a year of consolidation, Norbar having moved into our fabulous new premises in July 2016. We had plenty of work to do in getting to grips with our new property, getting the best out of it and making it pay for itself. However, the quiet year was not to be. Read to May to find out why!
The final sales figures for 2016 confirmed a year of highs and lows. Some distributors are still being heavily impacted by the slowdown in the oil and gas sector. On the other hand, other business areas have grown making up much of the gap left by oil and gas. One of these positive areas is India where we had a great 2016. To mark this and the 5th Anniversary of Norbar India, the Directors joined Norbar India staff to celebrate in January.
On 31st January we launch our compact and economic HandTorque® HT3-1000 torque multiplier. This model is to become the first of a new family of single stage torque multipliers that will eventually replace much loved models that have been in our range for 40 years. The new tools will be smaller, lighter and more economic than the current versions.
On the charitable front, the final total for our fundraising for Katharine House Hospice is £7,900.
Plenty of orders coming in so we need to up the pace on output.
We are getting a positive response to our NorTorque torque wrench launched two months before.
On 9th February, we hold our Careers Open Evening to promote Norbar as a great place to work and specifically to promote engineering as a career choice. The event was attended by over 60 students and parents who toured the factory and were given the opportunity of plenty of interaction with Norbar staff, including current apprentices.
February finished strongly and plenty of orders are coming in so we are heading for a big month. We have got two audits this month: our UKAS audit and our audit against ISO50001 – energy management. Our people are all over the world drumming up business, including in Egypt, China, Denmark, USA and Peru.
On 9th March, we send out a bulletin to our distributors drawing their attention to the new international standard for torque wrenches – EN ISO 6789:2017 – which was published in February after several years in the making. We publish the first of our blogs explaining the new standard, a blog series in multiple languages that continues to create enormous interest.
Our second major product launch of the year is for a new family of Industrial ‘break back’ torque wrenches – the 2R and 2AR. For some time, customers who love the ‘break back’ principle of our larger Industrial models have been asking us for low capacity models – now they have them!
With growing business, we are now seeing new faces in the company; in April we strengthen our torque wrench assembly and special products teams. We also have lots of sales effort going into Latin America, with positive results.
On 4th May we surprise the tool world with the following announcement: “ownership of Norbar Torque Tools Ltd and its associated group companies passed from the Brodey family to Snap-on Incorporated”. All of the Brodey family stay on to continue to manage the business. We now look forward to an exciting future in a large tool group with all of the many benefits that this can bring.
With the big announcement out of the way, it is back to business as usual with our customers and distributors. Norbar Torque Tools Inc run exhibition booths at the OTC Houston and Wind Power in Anaheim. We also support our Italian distributor at the Industrial Valves Summit in Bergamo, Italy.
We launch our new PTS Pneutorque® range and receive a very positive response. The big improvement compared to previous pneumatic torque wrenches is the efficient and compact new air motor. As always in a Norbar Pneutorque®, the air motor is specifically designed for application on a pneumatic torque wrench rather than (in so many other cases) borrowed from an air impact wrench that has different characteristics.
Ten Norbar staff members complete the 100 mile Cyclists Fighting Cancer charity ride and raise £900.
Our social media presence continues to grow. Indeed, May saw our video portfolio on You Tube attract our millionth view.
A strong month sales wise. We recognise 15 years of cooperation with our distributor in Russia, Intratool, at their celebration in St. Petersburg and present them with a ‘gold’ HT4 torque multiplier!
The new GST tax system in India is causing chaos. At least one of our distributors in India reports that they have not received a single order because customers and the government infrastructure are not ready for GST, making transactions almost impossible.
Norbar Singapore attends the OGA exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Long awaited, large order for electric torque tools from Mexico contributes to our continued success in this part of the world.
We launch the Torque Wrench Calibrator (TWC) which is Norbar’s answer to calibrating torque wrenches to the new standard, ISO6789:2017. The next part of Norbar’s calibration solution, a motorised and fully automated torque wrench loader, is progressing steadily towards launch.
We run our first set of “Rapid Continuous Improvement” events. We pick four projects to receive an initial week of intensive scrutiny and improvement activity. These are supported by an external expert in this field together with experienced colleagues from our new owner.
Norbar Banbury finally says goodbye to paper payslips!
Our colleague Kevin puts the rest of us to shame by competing in a 100 km ultra-marathon, finishing fourth overall and first in his age group.
In a world first, as far as we know, Norbar starts issuing torque wrench calibration certificates to IS06789-2:2017 from our UKAS accredited laboratory.
We launch the Right-Angle Gearbox, an accessory that can be fitted to many of our pneumatic and electric power tools enabling them to fit onto more applications with limited access. The first batch sells out quickly.
We launch new software for our advanced T-Box torque measurement instrument. This new software brings the T-Box into line with the new torque wrench standard, ISO6789:2017. The T-Box is the ideal partner to the TWC torque wrench loader launched one month earlier.
In a sure sign that winter is coming, we start taking bookings for flu vaccinations!
October is another big travel month with colleagues in China, Italy, USA, Turkey, India, Jordan, Qatar, Mexico and Lithuania. We sign up our first distributor in Jordan.
We launch Torque Handle versions (wrenches for interchangeable end fittings) of our ClickTronic®, electronic display torque wrenches.
We are pleased to welcome two new colleagues, James and David, into our UK sales team covering Scotland and the North of England. With Graham, who joined earlier, we have doubled the size of our UK team.
We take a fresh look at one of our popular products, the TruCheck torque tester, using the ‘Speed Design Review’ process that we have recently been taught by our new owners. With fresh competition coming along, we are determined to keep the TruCheck at the head of the field.
We attend the Machtec exhibition in Egypt with our distributors and ADIPEC, Abu Dhabi, with our own stand for the fourth year running. ADIPEC is now firmly part of our regular exhibition calendar.
Our price list / catalogue has had a major make-over during 2017 and the results of our labours are launched in December. Next comes the catalogue only version of this document (no prices, for overseas markets) and a German version ready for the Cologne Hardware Exhibition in March 2018. Stand design for Cologne is now progressing.
2017 turned into a momentous year for Norbar, arguably one of the most significant in our 74 year history. But, for all that has changed, much more has stayed the same. We are still the same people, just as passionate about being the best in our field of torque tools and torque measurement. We are selling our ever-expanding range of torque tools through mostly the same distributors and customers. We now look forward with great enthusiasm to 2018 and our 75th anniversary!
Wishing our blog readers a very happy New Year,
Sales and Marketing Director