Quality, availability & Customer Service: EW Interview November 2020

Pitacs Limited Director and Co-founder, Levent Aci and Divisional Director, David Linger, spoke to Electrical Wholesaler about TIME LED and product expansion plans for 2021.

Pitacs Limited was established in the UK in 1990 as a national distributor of heating products. Launching the Ultraheat collection, the company focussed mainly on steel panel radiators. Today, the Pitacs family includes AEON, Ultraheat, TIME Cable and TIME LED, and is one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of heating products and electrical cables in the UK, as well as exporting widely to international markets. With TIME LED, the company’s lighting division and newest brand, now in its fifth year of operation, EW editor Bryony Andrews spoke to Levent Aci, director and co-founder, and David Linger, divisional director, Electrical to find out more.

Levant Aci co-founded Pitacs in 1990 and has been building the business for three decades, focussing mainly on selecting and sourcing its cable and electrical products, and cultivating relationships with suppliers. “Stand out moments of growing Pitacs have included buying our own premises in 2010, which was our most major expansion. In 2019, we also established our own testing facility for our LED and other electrical products.”
David Linger is divisional director of Pitacs Electrical Division. Joining Pitacs in 2019 he brings more than 30 years of lighting industry expertise to his position driving TIME LED. In complement to his commercial success in the sector, David has also been a key policy influencer for both central and local government in its adoption of green energy, with particular involvement in the initiative to include white light LED technology in the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme for energy-saving technologies.

Where is Pitacs based and how many employees do you have?

Pitacs is based in Milton Keynes, where the head office is housed in the same premises as the major warehouse operation. We have 65 staff and have not made any redundancies due to the pandemic. We have actually added ve more permanent headcount across the business since August, and our most recent hire to the TIME LED team, John Nelson, is regional sales manager for the North.

In your opinion, what are consumers looking for currently in their lighting products? How do you expect these trends to evolve throughout the end of 2020 and as we continue into a new decade?

DL: The future of LED technology is pretty certain. Efficiency will go up, pricing will go down. There will also be plenty more consumer movement towards smart technology, which will really become the norm. TIME LED is looking ahead to 2021, with launches of smart lamps, sockets planned, as well as an offering of Smart CCTV. As for style, TIME LED established its presence in the market with its Antik collection of ceiling lamps and drop pendants, which blend industrial and vintage designs, and feature beautiful exposed LED filaments and ornamental outsized bulbs.

LA: The exposed filament lamps have been very successful with consumers, right from the beginning. It’s effective LED technology, you get all those benefits, but with a traditional look and a cosy feel to it.

What effect is the rise of smart controls having on the electronics sector?

DL: With the rise of smart controls, we are starting to see quality becoming a key issue, with cheap products starting to flood the UK market. Safety and reliability are key areas to check. Consumer need to be aware of what they are buying, and to make sure they are not falling prey to fake performance claims. TIME LED is taking care to select high quality, fully certified smart products for its new releases, as well as conducting its own in-house testing, and is a member of the LIA.

Can you tell me a bit about the Ultraheat Electric Towel Rail Range that was released earlier this year? What makes the products stand out from other products on the market?

LA: Under its Ultraheat brand, Pitacs Ltd has launched its new line of fully electric, heated towel rails. The new towel rails are pre-filled with an effective heat transfer liquid and pre-fitted with a quality heating element; all that’s required from the consumer’s space is a standard electrical outlet. This collection is all about simplicity coupled with aesthetics. With the Electric Towel Rails, you leave your pipework behind, and installation is easy. So put it wherever you choose, and choose something that looks great. The collection offers something for everyone, from compact, space-saving towel warmers for ensuites and WCs, to large, feature pieces for family bathrooms. Topping off the collection, some brand new, asymmetrical rails in a premium stainless steel are set off by a range of quality, PVD finishes, such as Antique Bronze and Brushed Copper. The products are simple, easy – and also safe. We implement a 3 Bar Safety Method for all our electrical heating solutions, so a 3 Bar Valve is provided with every product in this new collection, as well as a thermofused heating element for controlled, safe heating. We also offer a range of compatible Smart accessories for 24/7, precision control of your heating and your energy usage.

How has COVID-19 affected your business? What changes have you enacted? Looking ahead, how do you think it will affect the wider industry?

LA: The cable industry experienced a dramatic slump at the peak of the crisis, and faces more uncertainty in the coming months, as the mining of copper and the production of cable is still being affected by wholescale closures. This has led to significant interruptions to supply for the UK market as it attempts to get back to business as usual. We’ve taken measures – as far as we can – to assure our future cable stocks and mitigate against excessive pricing volatility. It’s important for us to support the UK industry over the coming year with a quality of product and a reliability of service. For TIME LED, it’s obviously been difficult, as I can’t travel to China to maintain our supplier relationships or source new product. However, we are fortunate that we’ve had our own dedicated team over in China for a number of years now, who independently audit and quality assess all our acquisitions and order shipments, which does allow us greater levels of access and control.”

DL: Whilst established customer relationships have weathered the storm well, generating new business will continue to prove more challenging for the foreseeable future. With social distancing measures, my team largely lost the ability to conduct face-to-face meetings with new contacts for the summer. We had to rethink almost every aspect of the way we work. Every meeting has to be pre-planned, we are having to do a lot more online. Fortunately, we are starting to see get more face-to-face meetings again, now that everyone is learning how to work in a Covid-Secure fashion.

What would you say is Pitacs’s ‘ethos’?

DL: The Electrical Division built its reputation by focusing on two key principles: quality and availability. There is also a renewed focus on customer service, which includes an extended program of internal staff training to boost lighting expertise when fielding customer queries, and an equal focus on all levels of customer, as well as all sizes of organisation. We want to provide a great service to all our customers, whether first time buyer or oldest customer, tiny start up or multi-premised organisation.

What’s been the most important industry lesson you have learned in your career so far?

LA: Learn your supplier culture, and respect that culture in order to maintain good relationships with your suppliers.

DL: Build concrete customer relationships with proactive customer service. Be available when your customer needs you, not just when it’s convenient; react promptly to queries and concerns, and be proactive when you see an opportunity or a gap in your offering that you need to fill.”

It’s been a difficult year for industry at every level – but what have been Pitacs’ highlights of 2020? Any particular successes or achievements?

DL: This summer saw Pitacs Limited celebrate its 30th birthday. The latter proved particularly crucial to the company’s endurance and against-the odds success during the pandemic months, as cable stocks supported the returning industry, and in July, contributed to Pitacs’ best ever month of sales. This was closely followed by another record-breaking month in September.

LA: We want to thank all our customers for 3 decades of support, and their continued support over this most recent, difficult period. Stock availability was so crucial; we found ourselves in a unique position at points of the shutdown period, when we were some of the only suppliers with certain cable stocks in the UK.

What can the industry expect from Pitacs in 2021 and beyond? Do you have any expansion plans, into new sectors or product areas?

Linger expanded the UK Sales team at the beginning of the year, and has overseen a significant development of the TIME LED product range. New arrivals to TIME LED’s Utility Collection include the Ultra Panels. Housing the latest SMD technology, the panels also feature an innovative screwless design to minimise light leakage. A new series of LED high bays is also being added to TIME LED’s industrial offering, which feature an adjustable beam angle.

DL: We chose a one-size-fits-all offering. Physically moving from fluorescent to LED can be a complicated prospect. With an adjustable beam angle, a single high bay solution will satisfy a range of warehouse lighting conditions and requirements. If you only have to purchase one type of product, but can use it in three different places, the installation job as a whole becomes much simpler. The Cable offering is also growing, the next addition will be the CAT6A, a high spec data cable with capacity to handle over 500 MHz (most standard data cables only handle 250 MHz), which has already met with a high level of customer interest.

#lighting #ledlighting #LED #ledlights #ledlightingsolutions #wholesale #commerciallighting #miltonkeynes #miltonkeynesbusiness #products #electricalindustry

Scroll to Top