Terri Smart-Jewkes, global sales & marketing director at Telford, UK-based aircraft boarding ramp and bridge supplier Aviramp, tells Airside about how the company has grown so quickly
Aviramp has grown exponentially over the last five years, she says, pointing to an increase in turnover from just £22,000 in its first year of trading in 2014 to £10 million by the end of 2018 – “phenomenal growth”, she observes.
The company remains independently owned (solely by Graham Corfield) and UK based, although plans are being made to open a manufacturing plant in the US. Such a move would follow on from the launch of a new sales and service office in Houston, Texas. This expansion strategy has been prompted by the demand for Aviramp’s suite of patented mobile passenger boarding ramps and bridges in the US.
“What is more, we are constantly innovating, and our suite of patented passenger ramps and bridges – the Lite, Domestic, Regional, Continental and International – service all aircraft types, including widebodies,” Smart-Jewkes says.
Aviramp equipment is, she continues, in demand in markets all over the world, including the UK, Ireland, Europe, Scandinavia, Africa, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, the US, Canada and South America. “In fact it is far easier to say where we are not prevalent – in a nutshell China and India.”
Furthermore, “We now have solar-powered versions of our equipment alongside diesel, and the Lite comes in a manual version as well. We also introduced the Mobiloader a few years ago, which has been particularly popular in the UK and parts of Europe, a piece of equipment that deals with the loading and unloading of the heavy electric mobility aids.
“Plus, we are also introducing an Aviramp Turnaround Kit that comprises our ramp, air stairs and belt loader. Its advantage is streamlined control and training, ensuring that all equipment is operated using the same control system.”
This equipment had a soft launch in 2018.
But the real “game-changers” remain the Aviramp passenger boarding products, Smart-Jewkes declares. “Recent independent trials conclude that using these products eliminates the need for ambulift or stairs and it is not only a product for PRM [passengers with restricted mobility] but can be used for all passengers for a safer and quicker boarding process. Statistics reveal that Aviramp [boarding] is in fact faster by 30% and thus drives turnaround efficiencies, along with making huge cost savings and delivering an all-inclusive passenger experience.”
Reflecting the high demand for Aviramp products, the company has received orders worth £6.7 million just since the start of 2019, Smart-Jewkes told Airside in late January. “And we unexpectedly received an order in December from one airport worth just short of £2 million. This is indicative of Aviramp and its impact on operations.
“It is not just airlines and airports or even passengers that love and champion our products,” Smart-Jewkes insists; “it is the ground handlers themselves due to their one-person operation, and their ease of use. We heard from handlers during a recent photo shoot tour where we were able to witness and photograph live turnarounds at busy airports such as Los Angeles, Seattle-Tacoma and Birmingham in the UK, whilst capturing live testimonials from those that use this equipment everyday. We were truly overwhelmed by their feedback.
“We also saw for ourselves the streamlined easy turnarounds with Aviramp, allowing all passengers including PRM to de-plane together, easily, safely and quickly.”
Smart-Jewkes recalls: “As a business, we have built the Aviramp brand very successfully and we continue to amplify it through a variety of channels. We will be on tour again doing a wide variety of trade shows all over the world.
“Our other key differentiator is that we produce our products to the highest standards at our factory, located in Shropshire in the UK. With our core products and a raft of optional extras, we essentially offer bespoke products to suit budgets and individual environments.
“So we are an agile, forward-thinking business with highly creative and strategic people with the necessary aviation and manufacturing expertise to build unrivalled relationships and an outstanding product and service for all our customers… wherever they are,” Smart-Jewkes concludes.
Moving into Texas
In February, Aviramp opened an office in Houston, Texas, in what it says was a response to handling the high demand for Aviramp mobile passenger boarding ramps and bridges. Plans for expansion there include opening a factory in 2020 but, in the interim period, the office will be responsible for Aviramp’s US sales and customer service operation.
The new office represents “an integral part of a global macro strategy to build localised sales teams in key markets worldwide”, Aviramp says. “Many are already up and running.”
A company spokesperson notes: ”We have wanted to launch operations in the US for some time given the overwhelming support for the product in North America, and have delayed simply due to identifying the right premises and representative to oversee operations there.”