After a reasonable winter and benign weather continuing into the spring, the agricultural fencing sector has got off to a good start this year. We look at what Tornado is doing to enable its contractor customers to make the best of the promising start to the season. Tornado is first and foremost a fencing manufacturer, rather than a manufacturer of other things who dabbles in the fencing sector. It has a single-minded determination and focus which has arisen from its history – a history which saw the company develop from a contracting business. The Tornado team brings from that heritage a unique understanding of what it takes to design, manufacture and install an effective fence for every situation.
The Tornado heritage also gives them a unique insight into the requirements of contractors, their key customer base. “Because of our heritage in contracting, we know the contractors and we understand their business,” says Tornado Sales Manager Malcolm Blackford. That is why Tornado has also always put a particular emphasis on customer service and the level of support that it invests in further developing the relationships that it has with its customers.
The fencing business is an interesting mixture of the traditional and the technical, and Tornado understands that. On the one hand there are techniques which go back decades, with regard to knots for instance. In many ways the fencer is a craftsman, each practitioner unique and proud of their work, and with as many regional variations as you would find in any craft. Any manufacturer that is going to be successful serving this market has to be respectful of the tradition; sometimes this includes working closely with contractors and sector experts to develop a tailored solution for a specific requirement.
Rob Bishop, for instance, who works as a forestry team leader in North Aston, Oxfordshire, says that Tornado supplies a bespoke lightweight deer net for the company he works for. “We discussed our requirements with Tornado – we mainly need to keep deer out, not to keep them in. They developed a solution and now supply us with a deer net which does exactly what we need in the most economical way for us.”
Along with the regional and the traditional, Tornado also recognises the increasingly high tech aspects of the business. Many contractors are using post drivers nowadays, as well as staple guns such as the STOCKade ST400i Cordless Fence Post Stapler which has been available from Tornado since last summer. Contractors are also open to using resources such as Tornado’s Quote Builder which handles the admin behind the scenes, enabling contractors to work much more efficiently by planning jobs from the office and then being ready to “hit the ground running” as soon as they arrive on site.
Tornado understands the importance of ensuring that professional fencers’ businesses are successful. The company produces a high quality product, which needs to be erected in the best way possible – it reflects well on both the contractors themselves and on Tornado if the end-customer has the best product and service.
This is partly about providing the best support and resources for the job, but it is also about developing that relationship with the customer base and putting into practice the ethos that we all benefit from satisfied customers and a job well done. That is why Tornado invests a lot in customer engagement, maintaining and developing its Contractor Network. This includes Network Updates, regular communications with contractors, social media, e-blasts and the farmfencetalk. co.uk forum.
“Providing an online forum for our customers, a channel through which they can share and promote best practice and from which we can learn what is happening in their businesses, is really important for Tornado,” says Malcolm Blackford. “It is what helps us know the difference.”
Above all, the Tornado Professional Contractors Network is designed to encourage best-practice and instil confidence in Tornado contractors, ensuring they have and maintain a professional edge over the competition.
“Every farmer or landowner who has a fence also has a choice about when it needs repairing or improving,” says Malcolm Blackford. “They can either patch it up or they can do a proper job and replace with a quality product which is going to last. At the end of the day, all the work that we do with our customers is designed to help them get their customers to make the second choice, delivering both quality and value."