A new product from Donite Plastics aims to protect flood-hit homes with a simple solution for lowlying air vents.
Donite’s Snorkelvent can be affixed to existing airbricks, used in many homes to ensure underfloor ventilation for wooden floors, to protect home-owners from flood damage.
Available to buy online at www.snorkelvent.co.uk, the product comes in a range of sizes, retailing at between £20 and £32 (€24 to €38.50).
Michael Knight, managing director of the Co Antrim firm, has is targeted revenues of €600,000 for the new product in its first year on sale.
‘‘The Snorkelvent is designed for DIY fitting, and is lightweight and therefore cheap and easy to post. We have decided to initially sell the Snorkelvent direct to the public via our own website snorkelvent.co.uk. ‘‘Later, we will try to get it into DIY stores and builders’ merchants. Already, with limited proactive marketing, Snorkelvent has been sought out by buyers on the internet,’’ said Knight.
Knight established Donite in 1981. The company focused initially on fibre glass manufacturing, but has since evolved into a manufacturer of industrial vacuum formed plastic products. It employs seven people at a production facility in Lisburn.
‘‘Around 95 per cent of our products are moulded from plastic using the vacuum forming process. We make a lot of parts for buses, medical equipment covers and engineering and electronic covers and enclosures. Most of our customers are local manufacturing companies,’’ said Knight.
Culture of innovation
Knight has cultivated a culture of innovation at Donite, whereby staff were encouraged to come up with their own ideas for new products. However, he said he was careful to ensure that this product innovation did not come at the expense of the day-to-day management of the business.
‘‘The difficulty for every budding inventor and entrepreneur is finding time to bring the product from idea stage to a fully rounded marketing, sales and business plan.
‘‘Over the years, our staff have always been working on an ‘own product’, in addition to developing products for other people. While we enjoy working on new projects, we have to focus on our core business,’’ he said. Knight collaborated with Irial O’Farrell of Evolution Consulting to bring Snorkelvent to the market.
‘‘Irial has worked with us strategically to set goals and ensure we actually attain them. It also helps that we are now held accountable to deadlines. Irial also recognised a gap in sales and marketing in our company. ‘‘So we identified an internal candidate with a natural interest in this area to take on that role,’’ he said.
Online marketing capabilities
Evolution worked with Donite to improve its online marketing capabilities.
‘‘There is much more to selling online than we had realised, but we recently reached a milestone getting our product to first place on the Google search results page,’’ said Knight.
‘‘Evolution has organised a graduate in e-commerce to work for us on a ten week placement over the summer.
‘‘She is concentrating on marketing the Snorkelvent, doing search engine optimisation and other online work,’’ he said.