Fired up: one safety company’s meteoric rise

Fireward focuses on designing and installing fire suppression systems that protect people, assets and infrastructure from the devastating impact of fire. Keeping watch 24/7, 365, so you don’t have to.

A fire can start anywhere and at any time – but its impact on a business can be long-lasting. Failure to detect and extinguish flames early can eradicate valuable assets and severely damage company reputation.

Fireward is one of the market-leading installers of automatic fire suppression systems. It helps organisations tackle fires before they cause potentially serious problems.

As a dynamic disruptor within the fire safety and prevention sector, Fireward has grown its market share through quality products and exceptional customer service. Its trusted systems work by automatically discharging an extinguishing agent when a fire is detected.

The company is hugely ambitious. It demonstrated its determination to grow sustainably over the long term in 2016, when owners Sam Malins and Edward Barnes purchased leading manufacturer Reacton Fire Suppression.

This strategic deal gave Fireward a valuable competitive advantage. It meant it could now manufacture as well as install products – and get them to market quickly. It could also develop bespoke products for the specific needs of customers around the world and across a wide range of industries. These include waste and recycling, construction, demolition, mining, residential, renewable energy, transport and the military.

‘A second-to-none service’

“Our fire suppression systems are independently fitted to applications such as plant machinery and equipment, buses, ground-support vehicles at airports and even cooker hoods in people’s homes,” says group marketing manager Emma Stroud.

“Fireward is the customer-facing brand for Reacton. We have the largest fleet of engineers across the country and our service is second to none. When we sell a system and install it, we do not walk away. Our systems can last 10 years and we service them throughout their life.”

Understandably this is a market where trust in a product’s design and its reliability are paramount.

Fireward and Reacton are determined to drive up standards in this sector. To this end, Reacton was the first company to achieve global certification to the latest standard for fire suppression systems in heavy equipment vehicles. It received the highest score possible under the P-Mark SPCR199 scheme. This means that even with the highest airflow, hidden fires are extinguished.

This certification is another massive differentiator for the company in what is a competitive market.

Setting sight on international expansion

Despite such successes, the owners know they cannot stand still. They have always reinvested any profits back into the company to enable it to grow. However, they would consider additional private investment if extra funding would help the business accelerate its growth – particularly internationally.

For example, the company is keen to increase distribution in the US and in the Middle East, where it has recently opened offices. Its latest activity in the Middle East includes a major contract with Byrne, one of the region’s largest plant and equipment rental companies. Reacton had to quickly refurbish the fire suppression system at one of Byrne’s major clients based at an off-shore powering oil production site. The existing manufacturer was unable to meet the timescale demanded by the client, but Fireward engineers completed the project within seven days of Reacton winning the contract.

The company’s founders are never afraid to look outside their own organisation for advice. They are part of the Scaling Up global executive education and coaching company, founded by the same Verne Harnish that formed the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, which today has more than 14,000 members worldwide. Fireward receives regular advice on how to structure the company effectively for future growth, plus help from experienced tutors to think differently about scaling up the business.

A recognisable brand is key

Fireward invests significantly in R&D to support the bespoke nature of its offering to clients, and is constantly looking at ways to improve its core range. “It is important we continue to move forward as a business,” says Stroud. “We recognise we have to continue to invest to ensure we have the best products on the market.”

When it comes to marketing, the company never underestimates the importance of brand. It produces promotional videos, attends industry events around the world and ensures its engineers drive Fireward-branded vans and wear branded clothing.

“How we look to customers is very important. We want them to feel connected to us and feel empathy for what we are achieving as a dedicated team of professionals led by entrepreneurial owners who have an exciting vision for our future.”

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