Now in its 25th year, The Midshire Group has grown into a £25m business, enjoying sustained success and organic growth year-on-year since 1990.
Managing Director Phil Powell attributes the company’s success to its commitment always to keep ahead of the market. “With something like technology, which is ever changing, it is imperative to know what the next big technology requirement will be for businesses. That way we can be one of the first to bring new and innovative products, solutions and services to market,” he says.
Midshire was established in 1990 in Birmingham, primarily to service the SME, education, legal, political and not-forprofit sectors. Seven years later it opened a new branch, Midshire Business Systems Northern, in Stockport, Manchester.
Until a few years ago, the two companies operated as independent business units. However, as Midshire continued to expand, most recently with the establishment of Midshire Business Systems Cymru in Pontyclun, Wales in 2013 and Midshire Business Systems North East in Sheffield last year, the directors decided to make the most of being part of a group.
Three years ago they set common goals, created a group marketing resource and developed a new website, followed by a rebranding last year. Each regional office is led by a director and to some degree works autonomously, but by pooling resources and working to a shared agenda, the group is reaping its reward.
Today, The Midshire Group is arguably one of the largest independent office technology resellers in the UK, with 215 staff and a MIF in excess of 10,000 nationwide. The company’s focus is firmly on providing market-leading service and forward thinking product offerings, while placing customers’ current and future needs at the forefront of any business developments.
Its success in meeting these aims is reflected in a string of achievements and accreditations. The company is a Ricoh Prestige Partner; was appointed a Sharp Centre of Excellence in 2010; and achieved Lexmark Accredited Partner status in 2012. It has been a Samsung Platinum Service Dealer since 2013, and last year also became a Samsung Platinum Sales Dealer. More recently it has achieved HP Gold Partner status.
Changing with the times
Midshire has not lost sight of its core business, namely the selling and servicing of print and copy hardware, as well as telecoms systems. But that has not stopped it moving with the times. Its offering has expanded and now includes sales, service and support for the latest data security solutions; desktop printers, multifunctional products and digital production devices from Ricoh, Sharp, Lexmark, Samsung, RISO and HP; business telephone systems and superfast business broadband; and a full range of IT solutions.
“The industry is completely different now to how it was in 1990,” explains Powell. “We have had to move with the times, time and time again. There will always be a requirement in the office for printers and copiers.
However, we know that the market is shifting toward printing less and scanning more. As a supplier, we now need to network machines for internet capabilities, provide scan-to-email functionality and support the wider use of cloud services, such as DropBox and Google Drive for example – a breadth of functionality that wasn’t required 25 years ago.
“In line with our mission to keep ahead of the game, we have just launched our own range of cloud-based products. Desktop Monster is a hosted desktop solution that we have built and developed in-house. We know that this trend is only going to increase, largely down to the rise of mobile technology devices that are being used for both work and pleasure. People need and want access to their documents wherever they are. We have to respond as the market shifts, to ensure we’re ready to deliver what our customers want and need.
“We’ve worked hard and built a reputation whereby our customers are confident that the solutions we provide will meet their goals in the short- and long-term and deliver tangible benefits to their business.”
Investing in the future
To help it do this, Midshire has invested heavily, creating and building a dedicated IT department that supports customers with machine networking requirements and provides telephone-based consultancy and remote IT support. It also offers specialist support for customers’ general IT requirements. As a result of this approach, the group has been able to up-sell bigger, more complex solutions to existing customers who originally bought just one service.
“We invest when and where we need to,” says Powell, “up-skilling existing staff or hiring new specialists in their fields when required. We constantly evaluate and re-evaluate our business for weak spots, gaps and future development opportunities.”
A unified structure has supported the group’s ability to flex and address any challenge or problem head on. The management teams meet regularly to discuss any changes and developments and plan how these should be dealt with.
“There will always be challenges and difficulties along the way. Yet taking a direct approach to dealing with them means they are dealt with quickly and with minimum impact on the business,” explains Powell.
Standing out from the crowd
Another USP, according to Powell, is Midshire’s focus on the customer. “We are a truly independent supplier of some of the best and best-known technology brands and remain committed to putting customers first, ensuring any issues are dealt with swiftly and delivering a personal, bespoke and full service to all.”
A four-strong regional office network enables Midshire to deliver a comprehensive, friendly, local service backed by a nationwide reach. Its service operation is run locally, but managed from a central service call centre in Birmingham.
A number of key appointments in this area have led to a reduction in downtime of customers’ machines. In recognition of this achievement, the company was recently nominated as ‘Service Provider of the Year 2015’ at the Midlands Business Awards.
Competitive pricing is another key differentiator. “A strong relationship with our suppliers gives us the edge when it comes to pricing,” says Powell. “We are a one-stop-shop; we don’t just supply photocopiers, we supply the full office technology solution, which includes a full range of printing devices, from compact desktop printers to print production machines, as well as telecommunications solutions, broadband and IT products and services. We can offer our customers the best price available, whilst including a first class service contract to maintain the quality of the machine, and that’s a powerful proposition.”
Looking to the future
With 25 years of sustained growth under its belt, Midshire doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels. It has recorded a 20% increase in turnover this year and last month officially opened its new Midlands base in Doranda Way, West Bromwich.
The result of a £2.2 million investment by the company, part-funded by the Growing Priority Sectors Regional Growth Fund, with the help of Think Sandwell, Sandwell Council’s business growth team, the brand new, custom-built office and warehouse facility is designed to see Midshire through its next phase of growth and development.
The move has already created 20 new jobs and gives Midshire the capacity to create 20 more in the medium term. The 25,000 sq. ft. premises include extensive warehousing, office space on two levels and demonstration showrooms.
Sandwell Council Leader Darren Cooper officiated at the grand opening. Specially invited business partners, local companies, community leaders and customers enjoyed a tour of the new premises and attended demonstrations highlighting the diverse range of products and services available from Midshire. Featured solutions included photocopiers and specialist printing equipment, 3D printing, video conferencing and the company’s new cloud-based virtual desktop solution, Desktop Monster.
Key partners Ricoh, Sharp, Lexmark, Samsung, RISO, HP and Gamma were represented. Also in attendance were finance partners Siemens Financial Services, CIT and CF Asset.
“This is a significant move for the company after a sustained period of growth,” Powell explains. “The new office has provided better facilities for our growing team and will enable us to deliver an even better service to our expanding customer base. It was a real pleasure to officially open the building in front of our business partners, local businesses and staff.”
In addition, the company has extended its Stockport branch, taking over the unit next door. This expansion has increased its warehousing capability and provided much needed additional office space to accommodate Midshire’s expanding workforce.