Volution – A Breath of Fresh Air
Volution is the market leader in residential and commercial building ventilation across a number of markets in the UK, Europe, and Australasia, and possess an impressive portfolio of proprietary brands. With a winning combination of strong brands, strong products and great service, it’s not hard to see how they do it.
People are more aware than ever of the dangers of air pollution outdoors, but Volution is working to solve the issues with air quality in our own homes.
“I always come back to there being not just one USP,” explains the company’s CEO, Ronnie George. “We have a number of attributes that together provide what we believe is an unrivalled USP.
We have exceptionally strong brands, a very wide portfolio of products, great service, not just in terms of responsiveness and delivery performance but in the back-office support and technical help we provide under each of those brands. We also pride ourselves in building up great long-term relationships with customers. When you add all of that together, you see we have a significant USP.”
RECOGNISING THE CHALLENGE
However, alongside those USPs, there is another challenge, one that faces not just Volution but the entire internal ventilation sector. “What we’ve realised over the last couple of years is that maybe from an audience perspective air quality and air movement are probably not well understood in terms of regulatory drivers and the customer experience,” George admits. “There’s PR and media around external air quality. We’re moving away from diesel motor vehicles, for instance, but my concern is indoor air quality is exactly the same but what isn’t understood is we can do
something about that. We can filter the air, so the health benefits and consumer benefits are going to grow significantly over the next five years.”
Even redecorating, or bringing in new furniture can have a serious impact on the quality of air in your home without sufficient ventilation. “If you live in a reasonably new dwelling and you put some new furniture in the bedroom or have it redecorated, then during the hours of darkness the air quality in the bedroom reduces significantly,” George points out. “Windows are closed
in the winter and you’re getting an unhealthy build-up of volatile organic compounds from the furniture and paint. A survey of 100 new dwellings checking the levels of organic carbons in bedrooms and living areas found unexpectedly high levels, so coming back to development, we believe we solve air issues really well, but I wonder whether or not the public is really aware of the issues.”
It’s an issue George clearly cares about, and one Volution is working to rectify. “We’ve engaged a PR consultant to really have discussions with the government about these sorts of issues,”
George says. “That’s the extent we’re doing it at the moment and we’re working closely with customers, architects and contractors about the risks of poor indoor air quality. We’re working closely with the social housing space to make sure customers know the risks.”
While the general public may not be aware of the importance of internal air quality, the regulatory environment is certainly catching up with these concerns.
“The ventilation space is underpinned by very strong regulatory drivers, particularly in the new build markets,” George says. “As regulations reduce the carbon emissions from homes and they become more airtight, the more important ventilation becomes.”
Meeting this challenge is going to mean finding new solutions and new ways of doing things. “We need to continue to innovate, and that innovation has to be two-fold,” George explains “The designers of new buildings need to take heat recovery and system ventilation into account, while in existing buildings, the UK’s 25 million existing homes, have varying degrees of indoor air quality. So we need to ensure we continue to innovate and bring refurbishment solutions to market.”
Perhaps Volution’s biggest achievement is developing working methods that allow them to turn innovation, a typically lightning-in-a bottle phenomenon, into something routine.
“One thing I’d say about Volution is we have turned our innovation into a conveyor beltlike process. What I was nervous about when I started was that it’d be more campaign focused and we’d focus on something, do it well and then there’d be a lull,” George says. “Now we ask product managers and local sponsors to assess what they want in terms of innovation for the future, what trends are coming, and then we bring that back. We’re doing that really well now so that over the next couple of years I can see future innovations coming down the pipeline.”
Of course, that innovation is only possible thanks to the superb team Volution has put together, and every level of the company is geared towards finding and nurturing talent.
“The structure of the company is that each area has a local managing director. Current management is primarily locally driven, so the UK managing director would have various ways of approaching their talent pool and that works because we’re culturally sensitive to what happens locally,” George says.
“But on top of that, we’ve run three management development programmes. There are stars and risers within the group who we’ve brought together and helped with cross-border experience, more
functional experience. There is a huge emphasis from our perspective to focus on employee engagement and making sure the board understands what’s going on within the company.”
It’s something that George retains a personal hand in, and he’s proud to tell us that, “Even as CEO I’d have a list of 50 names at my fingertips of people with high potential we want to develop over time.”
Development over time is the ethos behind a lot of what Volution does.
“The way I look at this is that the strategy and the development of the company is more evolution rather than revolution,” George says. “We’re a customer-centric business. We solve problems with
indoor air quality, so over time, it’s about making sure we do the best possible job we can. If we look to the future, in five years’ time we’ll be significantly larger, possibly through acquisition as well as organic growth, but our DNA would be broadly similar. Can we do more? Yes, we can, and we will over time.”