Real business story

Good communication and customer focus transformed Origin into a £40m business

Origin COO Victoria Brocklesby shares how a pioneering approach to customer service, good internal communication and an ethos of always listening to staff ideas has transformed Origin from a small family operation into a global business with 300 employees.
Origin Global manufacturing

Origin has developed a culture where all team members feel their opinions and ideas are valued

Origin began as a shared vision between entrepreneurial cousins, Victoria Brocklesby and Neil Ginger. The pair set out to transform the way people enjoy their homes by creating the highest quality bi-fold door system on the market.

Since launching in 2002, Origin has grown from a humble family operation to a global company with a turnover set to hit £40m. The business employs a workforce of 300 people, divided between the UK, USA and Dubai.

Aside from chic and sustainable aluminium designs, Origin’s success is largely down to a pioneering approach to customer service, good internal communication and an ethos of always listening to staff ideas.

From using technology to show how renovations will look ahead of time to delivering bespoke orders the next day, Origin’s small business approach and family spirit reigns strong.

In the latest episode of It’s The Small Things, we spoke to co-founder and COO Victoria about how making small changes can have a huge impact on productivity.

The full podcast episode is available on all major platforms and immediately below. Click through to find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Acast, Spotify and SoundCloud and subscribe to make sure you don't miss out on new episodes.

Full podcast episode audio

BONUS: How Origin Global COO Victoria Brocklesby met the challenge of COVID-19

Email less, talk more

Origin’s philosophy on communication can be summed up as email less, talk more. Email, she believes, has become a tool for people to avoid facing up to issues and shirk responsibility. This breeds frustration.

The business uses Microsoft Teams instead, which utilises things like instant messaging to create a beehive mentality centred on collaboration and uniting behind a common goal. Ultimately, Victoria wants to make internal email redundant in the business.

“Email has been completely misused since it came out. It was supposed to replace the old fashioned letter writing but has instead replaced face-to-face conversations,” she said.

“We encourage people to use email as little as possible. Internally, it should just be for confirming notes from meetings and conversations that have taken place.”

Origin holds regular Town Hall meetings and roundtable discussions to encourage colleagues to share ideas and get to know one another.

The business also publishes regular newsletters, digitally and in print, that share employee updates such as births and marriages, staff achievements and when staff suggestions have been adopted into the company.

Origin is set to invest in its own intranet system, where employees can create a profile to share their likes and dislikes, their skills and get to know their colleagues.

“If you ask people about the challenges of your business, almost every time they say communication. Improving communication is so important and something we concentrate on.”

Victoria Brocklesby – Origin

Is your internal communication as good as it could be?

Use our helpful template to find out
Victoria Brocklesby - Origin Global

Victoria Brocklesby has tried to keep as much of a family business feel to the organisation as it has grown

Reducing wasted space by 50 per cent

Encouraging staff to share ideas that could improve the business is a key part of the Origin ethos. No idea is a bad idea within the company.

A great example of this is a production worker called Damien who noticed a way to reduce the packaging on windows ancillaries.

After raising the idea with his manager, Damien’s suggestion was implemented. The result was a dramatic reduction in packaging – and a 50 per cent reduction in the amount of storage space required in the factory.

Not only has extra space been filled with more manufacturing capacity, the reduction in wasted packaging is saving money and is better for the environment.

"No idea is a stupid idea. If we want to improve, we’ve got to embrace all these different possibilities. Some ideas will work, some won't and we will give them a try – but don't be shy in coming forward. That’s the message going out to everybody,” Victoria said.

“Damien's great idea was featured in an article in our newsletter, which hopefully encourages other people to have the courage to come forward with great ideas that can improve things.”

Victoria Brocklesby – Origin

Town hall meetings, where you bring all your employees together for an open discussion, can be valuable for generating new ideas

Make your town hall meetings engaging
Origin doors and windows warehouse

Management has worked hard to ensure office and production staff feel joined as one team

Put the customer first

A big part of Origin’s success has been its dedication to the customer experience. Many of the company's clients use Origin exclusively for all building projects.

One change that had a huge impact on the business was a simple mindset tweak. Rather than telling customers when orders could be delivered, Origin made a pledge to deliver bespoke orders whenever the customer required – including next day delivery.

“Probably the biggest change, in our mindset more than anything, was putting the customer in charge of when we delivered their product. We don't have a lead time on any of our products, which just doesn't happen in the industry,” Victoria said.

“You can order a bespoke product today and get it tomorrow. That's virtually impossible to do anywhere else. That has been a huge game changer, especially at busy times like the run up to Christmas. We pick up a lot of new customers at that time of year.”

“Probably the biggest change, in our mindset more than anything, was putting the customer in charge of when we delivered their product."

Victoria Brocklesby – Origin

What to do next?

We have a wide range of content dedicated to helping you solve crucial business challenges, but here are some suggestions:

Enjoyed this article?

Sign up to receive more advice and guidance-based content to help you improve your business.
  • location: South East (England)
  • business size: 100-249 People
  • business type: Manufacturing

Lessons learnt

Think like Origin and Victoria by integrating differing kinds of open communication opportunities, and then dial in on the ones that work.

If a member of staff, like Damien, suggests a good improvement then publicise it internally to encourage others.

While letting customers pick when they get the product is a big move to make, understanding the value of thinking like this is a great start.