Paul Vinnicombe, managing director of JT Lewis, talks about the continued growth of its mattress making division.
Just over two years ago a business that specialises in the manufacture of mattresses and bed bases was launched, selling directly to retailers. Since its inception back in May 2017, JT Lewis has continued to grow rapidly and revealed to Cabinet Maker that 2019 has been a year of further investment to support its ongoing success.
Based in the North East in Peterlee, JT Lewis takes immense pride of being a British based — and British made — company that conforms to British standards in both manufacturing techniques, customer service and employment.
Paul Vinnicombe, managing director of JT Lewis, spoke to us about its ethos: “As a British-run company we believe in supporting the local community and have offered full training programmes to non-skilled people, some of whom have been unemployed for many years.
“We have an enormous amount of experience in this and believe we offer high-quality products at reasonable prices. We are a growing company, which has retained family values and which believes customer service is a top priority. By giving staff such skills we believe we are securing their futures as well as securing manufacturing within the local area. We are committed to producing quality products while contributing to the local community and investing in people.”
On that note, JT Lewis has further committed itself to offer more jobs by launching a recruitment drive for a number of positions as the business expands. Alongside this, the business works consistently with local agencies to allow opportunities for people under a trial basis, which, as Paul revealed, usually leads to employment.
“It is important to train staff and give them skills as the area we are in is an area with higher than average unemployment. By giving employees these skills it is assisting them in getting back into work and staying in employment,” Paul said, continuing: “In addition, it is important to train staff to ensure everyone is working to the same standards and quality. We have given many people the chance of a work trial through local agencies and have employed several of these staff.
“Currently, we are looking for sales agents and tape edge operatives. It’s exciting times ahead for us and if anyone would like to join us on our journey, I encourage them to contact us. It is important for us to continue to invest in our team.”
JT Lewis’ key team includes Paul, Lawrence Swallow in sales, Kay Turner in accounts and Craig Rudd as production manager. And it’s not just people the business has invested in of late.
“We have invested heavily over the last 18 months and have purchased new machinery, including tape edge machines, and are currently looking into more modern technology for these machines. This is the machine that makes the mattress a mattress! We have also taken on and made vast improvements to a warehouse in Peterlee,” Paul said.
Whilst continuous investment in staff and operations remains a fundamental practice for the business, JT Lewis also outlined that sustainability is a key factor moving forward. So much so, the company has recently signed up to Durham Council’s pledge to reduce the use of single-use plastics. “We also have relationships in place where we can recycle old mattresses that our customers need removed in order to receive their new mattress,” Paul added.
“Everyone is looking at sustainability and recycling. We are currently looking at developing a new mattress covered in a fabric that is made completely out of recycled plastics. We are also happy to manufacture customers’ own-brand mattresses, and can also assist in developing a mattress specification, which is exclusive to a particular customer.”
It is clear to see that JT Lewis is thriving, especially in what have been described by many as ‘challenging times’, largely due to Brexit. In keeping with the British mantra of ‘keeping calm and carrying on’, JT Lewis has seen sales continue to grow on last year with everything moving in the right direction.
“Our raw material suppliers have advised us that the market in general is quiet, however our sales are growing so we are happy we have not been affected by a lower-moving market,” Paul explained.
“The fact that we are hearing that the market is slow for our suppliers is a challenge in itself and we need to ensure we do not become complacent. We must continue to drive forward to maintain the growth we are seeing at the moment.”