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 Face to Face Face to Face with Simon Ruck, managing director of MAC International

What is the history of your company, and how has it evolved in recent years?

The origins of MAC International can be traced back to our very early pressure washer manufacturing business. As far back as 1990 we were producing bespoke and off-the-shelf static machines for a small number of distributors and friends within the business. In 1999 MAC Interna- tional was formed, having sought a new range of equipment from Italy. We found a small, highly professional

Italian manufacturer bursting with poten- tial. We could see that the range was ready to go and was perfect for the UK. We were then able to add to our static range with a superb selection of stainless steel mobile hot and cold pressure washers - notably the MAC Avant. MAC International was then up and run-

ning as an import and redistribution busi- ness in 1999, with the MAC Avant leading the way and enabling us to secure a small number of key customers in England and Scotland. The use of some very good marketing, a

lot of hard work, demonstrations and many miles, saw MAC develop into a realistic al- ternative to the more established cleaning equipment suppliers at the time.

What have been the main drivers for growth in your business?

The growth of our business has been very much in key phases. In 2005 we in- creased the number of products in the pressure washer range, giving our cus- tomers a much greater choice, as well as adding a professional range of floorcare equipment. The Floormaster range was an instant success, particularly with the MAC SW70RB ride-on sweeper, which is still being sold today. Undoubtedly, the main driver has been

the continuous quality development of the entire range and our total commitment to improvements. In 2009 we decided to restructure the

company by inviting a business partner with huge commercial and cleaning industry ex- perience to join us. This partnership has

Above, Simon Ruck, managing director of MAC International.

been hugely successful and has allowed us to build a real sales team, concentrating on our service to distributors. We also undertook a major review of the

Below, from left to right: Simon Ruck, Andrew Scott, marketing manager, and Rob Pound, technical manager.

marketing policy of the company, develop- ing a key client-based strategy which is still in operation today. We also added a janitor- ial division and joined a key janitorial buying network called Socius. This has enabled us to offer an extensive range of janitorial and paper supplies to our distributors at realis- tic prices and volumes. The ability to offer such a wide choice and

become a true alternative to the estab- lished companies has been vital in the growth of our company. In 2011 we intro- duced eService. This has probably been the single most important marketing deci- sion we have taken. eService is managed and run by Andrew Scott, our marketing manager, and is totally focused on improv- ing our clients marketing and how we can assist them with the difficult job of promo- tion and advertising through developing fly- ers, brochures and their websites.

What trends do you see in the cleaning in- dustry, and have you aligned your product offering to reflect this?

Undoubtedly, over the last number of years quality has become the key issue. I was around when the high revving compact ma-

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chine was introduced to the UK with disas- trous consequences. Our dealer partners have all lived through

these trends and as we stand so close to all areas of the industry it allows us to make informed choices on the direction of our machinery and, most importantly, we are able to undertake specific changes quickly and effectively when required. I have seen first hand the frustration

throughout the industry with the corporate influence on the established equipment ranges and how this has dramatically re- duced the quality of the equipment in the field. Our absolute obsession is to avoid these pitfalls and continue to offer well built and supported pressure washers - the MAC Avant is a superb example of this. From an initial single machine we now have a full range of MAC Avants. Despite winning the MOD contract in

2009 for seven years with the standard ma- chine, we continually change and develop the range for the better.

What are the main challenges facing the cleaning industry as a whole at present?

Clearly we are all affected by global down- turn, however our customers seem to have performed superbly throughout the last five years. Distributors who have prospered during this period have been well organised and longer established companies. Their customers have gravitated towards them looking for a reliable service. Clearly there are environmental and

health & safety issues always to consider, however buying correctly, supporting the product and providing a first class fast and efficient service is still the main focus for our distributors. The Internet has provided all kinds of

problems for the distributor networks of the long established cleaning equipment suppliers. We constantly hear that prices are driven down by non-specialist compa- nies offering cheap machines, against the established and well known distributors. How can this be right? Suppliers such as ourselves must fiercely

support distributors and protect their area of sales. Local service is so important and will always remain the backbone of our in- dustry. How do we do this? We have a policy within our network - NO discounted Inter- net prices. As long as we protect this our prices remain fair and, most importantly, up to the local distributor to make their own decision.

What are the main challenges facing your business at present?

Dealing with the weakening pound without passing on price increases is tough, but so far so good.

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