An Interview with James Tidy
James Tidy, Managing Director of Tidyco
Derby-based Tidyco, a supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic products to the UK rail industry for over 40 years, here talks to James Tidy about his beginnings with the business, appointment as Managing Director and vision for the future of Tidyco.

Hi James, can you tell us about your beginnings with Tidyco and early days within the business?

Growing up, I spent the summer months working for my father’s business, which back then was called Tidy Hydraulics. I was tasked with pressure testing hydraulic hoses for high profile clients such as the MoD and British Rail. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and decided to pursue a career within the field of engineering.

After graduation, I formerly joined the family run business and in January 2000 was employed as quality manager; I officially entered the company knowing a few familiar faces.

At that time, Tidy Hydraulics employed just 10 employees; one of whom included Tidyco’s current rail division director, Paul Jacks. The derby-based manufacturer had a turnover of around 2 million, which was an impressive figure for a small localised company. During this time the group was evolving towards becoming an official Parker distributor. This is an on-going relationship which continues to move in a positive direction to this very day.

Early in my career at Tidy Hydraulics, I understood the value of IT and believed that having a stable infrastructure would provide a critical back-bone in supporting operational growth. With this in mind, I made the decision to improve overall technology throughout the business, overhauling the IT infrastructure as well as implementing a fully functioning e-commerce platform.

This achievement is something that I am still very proud of. Tidy Hydraulics had the ability to receive transactions through its online system thus; creating sheer electronic revenue. The company was an early adopter of online commerce opportunities.

A position became available within the engineering team, which was an area of the operation that I felt very passionate about. Joining the production unit enabled me to grow within the wider industry whilst developing overall management skills.

In 2005, Tidy Hydraulics became Tidyco. The name change was important as it allowed the group to diversify into additional service provisions both independent s well as potentially entwined with the hydraulics function. As a team we had ambitious plans to penetrate additional markets so as to grow the business. Building upon a philosophy of innovation and diversification, the current business model thrives upon exploring additional opportunities.


When did you become Managing Director and what was your initial strategy for leadership and organisational growth?

I became Managing Director for Tidyco in December 2015. I assumed the position with minimal disruption to the organisation; it certainly helped that I was very close friends with my predecessor, Rob Brown. I wanted the process to be a smooth transition so as not to negatively impact the day-to-day working environment in anyway.

I was committed to expanding the management team; Paul Jacks was on-board as director of the rail division, supported by Phil Mason as overall production director. David Hithersay was appointed as climate control director in 2009 and was presented with the remit of developing a complete HVAC service provision.

The next step was to put in place a reactive hydraulic hose replacement service offering. Mark Newman had the relevant experience and as such, assumed responsibility for the management of the Hose Doctor team. I am pleased to see impressive growth within this particular division and it is invigorating to witness on-going engineer and fleet expansion.

In the past year, we have appointed a heavily experienced finance manager to the team. Jay Bhundia brings a vast amount of accounting gravitas to the business and is helping to define the overall three year growth strategy. Bolstering the team further; I appointed David McLean as hydraulics divisional manager, fully equipped with specialist competency in designing complete systems for a wide range of industries.

Understanding the value of marketing within modern digital climates, I appointed Barry Aldridge as marketing manager in August 2016. The marketing function has since expanded with the introduction of Jake Tyers, who joins us as part of a University internship.

Firmly believing that customer service is the driving force behind growing sales and revenue, I have recently appointed Sounil Heeramun who has re-structured the sales team so as to form part of a pro-active customer focussed commercial operations function. Sounil’s primary objective is to nurture existing account relationships whilst acquiring additional clients.

I strive for a positive work ethic throughout the organisation and feel passionate about team building.


Did you face any challenges during the infancy of your Directorship and how did you overcome them?

I was fortunate enough that when I took over the role as Managing Director I had previous knowledge of the business, having worked with the former Director for many years. As such, challenges were minimal.

As a Managing Director, I use my knowledge and experience to keep employees focused on continual growth. Continuous professional development is important to me as I believe that it agitates on-going corporate improvements.

You recently reported 14% profitable growth, what has been influential in this achievement?

Tidyco has experienced significant success in growing turnover through existing supply chains within the UK rail industry as well as its Hose Doctor service provision.

The company has also experienced tangible success in online commerce as well as growth regarding international export. Whilst competition and global markets remain fierce, Tidyco is committed to offering a best in class customer service.


What are your thoughts on innovation whilst diversifying into new markets and service provisions?

Innovation is extremely important to any business, even more so within the realms of manufacture and engineering.

As a company we are always looking at new ways to improve each department; whether it is investing in new machinery or applying new methods to our marketing plans. I believe that innovation is the main driver in challenging current methods and improving them. I believe that Tidyco has a bright future with a lot of exciting new ventures in the pipeline.


What makes Tidyco unique as a business compared to your competitors?

We are a people business and work in partnership with all stakeholders. We can deliver a high quality service to our client portfolio with minimal defects. The Cyber Essentials secured portal is a perfect example of providing a value added service provision to both customers as well as suppliers.

Having a team of expert engineers empowers the company to be solutions based as well as price competitive.


What is your vision for the future of Tidyco?

We are part way through a three year strategy to grow the business by 45%. I always encourage a multi sales channel approach whereby each division challenges one another to strive to be better. Of course, on-going divisional collaboration is extremely important.

Innovation and diversification will also be critical for future growth. Applying pure commercial marketing functions will open up doors to exciting new opportunities. An understanding of the potential to penetrate additional markets with both existing and new products will agitate expansion.

Furthermore, growing existing market share with continuing engagement whilst offering new product introductions will help influence overall profitability.

In the short term, I intend to passionately expand the commercial operations team.

I am really proud to have grown my team from 10 personnel to 54 over the past 17 years and look forward to future success of Tidyco.

About the author

Barry Aldridge MCIM

Head of Marketing at Tidyco Limited and member of the Board of Directors for Midlands Rail Forum.

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