Ian Battye, Manufacturing Manager at our Hull site, recently retired after over 30 years with us. Ian was interviewed by the Hull Daily Mail a little while back and we re-share it here.
What positions have you held at Kohler Mira since you started out? Talk me through your career at the company and how you have progressed.
Prior to the Kohler Co. acquisition of Mira Showers in 2001, I was given the opportunity to become Plant Engineer for Alstone; a small, recently acquired business located in Hull which produced gelcoat shower trays, GRP products and shower enclosures. Before long, I took on the role of Site Production Manager.
Our close alignment with Mira Showers brought rapid growth and allowed us to undertake the first of two factory relocations. The move gave me a wealth of experience and the investment enabled the business to develop our innovative, patented Mira Flight products.
My role during this time also changed to Plant Manager, which allowed me to undertake several development courses at Kohler Co. headquarters in Wisconsin, US. As Plant Manager, one of my pivotal moments came when I had the opportunity to present our Mira Flight shower trays in Paris, competing against the traditional ceramic and acrylic products.
What is it about the company that has helped you stay for more than three decades?
Three reasons stand out. First and foremost are the associates I work with. Their contributions and professional approach never cease to impress me.
Secondly, the company’s drive for innovation in all areas across new product development, British manufacturing and investment makes Kohler Mira an exciting place to work. The opening of our state-of-the-art £6 million Hull factory in 2012 is testament to this.
Finally, Kohler Mira strives to support both local communities and associates, meaning that we all remain engaged and supported as employees. Having adopted four Stewardship pillars across Community, Workplace, Arts and Sustainability, the company is consistently making the workplace more enjoyable whilst making an impact.
Kohler Mira has also been hugely supportive of my personal support to charities over the years. This year I participated in Cycle Palestine 2018, a 240km bike ride across the West Bank to raise money and awareness for Medical Aid for Palestinians, a remarkable charity that raises money for healthcare projects in the West Bank, Gaza and The Lebanon. I have supported this charity for 25 years.
How has the company changed since you first started out there?
Over the years, the company has gone from strength-to-strength, not only from a turnover perspective but also from a manufacturing point of view. We have moved from a manual based operation into an automated facility incorporating technologies such as robots and lasers.
We are proud to say that we are now a leader in product design and innovation and are committed to developing new trend-led aesthetics and safety features. Awards such as the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Innovation category for our Mira Flight Safe anti-slip shower tray is evidence of this.
What would you say to other people who are considering applying for a job at Kohler Mira in the future?
Kohler Mira prides itself on being a forward-thinking business that invests in its associates for the long-term. If you are ambitious and are keen to hone your skills, then we are the company for you.
In terms of market/business progression, where exactly is Kohler Mira at the moment, and how do you think the business will continue to develop into the future?
We have a well-established position as the UK’s leading manufacturers of mixer, electric, power and digital showers in the UK. Since 1921, we have been setting the standard for innovation, craftsmanship and technology within the industry.
We currently have the 5th largest Research & Development budget of any ‘white goods’ manufacturer in the country and we will continue to innovate. Our passion will always lie in developing pioneering showering technologies such as our most recent innovation, the Mira Mode digital mixer shower, which has won both an IF and Red Dot Award.
What sets Mira apart from its major competitors in the sector?
Many things, but most notably:
Innovation. It is the lifeblood of the company and an intrinsic part of our business model. Our product development is based on extensive consumer research which means we are providing exactly what our customers want. For example, the Mira Flight Safe Shower Tray is a fantastic solution to meet the demands of multi-generational bathroom designs.
Being privately owned. This means that we have a senior team that are as invested as every single associate.
The high levels of re-investment back into the business mean that we are continuously growing.
It's been wonderful to celebrate so many milestone events at Hull site under Ian's leadership, including our 2017 Queen's Award for Enterprise: Innovation for Mira Flight Safe, and also in October this year, seeing our 2 millionth Mira Flight tray product come off the line since the range launched in 2004.
The team here at Kohler Mira have really enjoyed working with Ian and we wish him a very happy retirement!