Electrical and lighting specialist Hamilton Litestat celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. PHPD caught up with Managing Director Ian Hamilton to discover the company’s roots and find out how it aims to maintain its momentum into the next 50 years.
Lighting control and home automation technology are two increasingly sought after features for any new house. Combined with quality electrical wiring accessories they can help create stylish, adaptable and functional spaces, while meeting the needs of the modern tech-savvy customer.
Today, Hamilton Litestat’s range of solutions covers all these areas – but it wasn’t always the case. When the company was founded in 1968, by the late Rod Hamilton, the business had a sole focus on wall plate dimmers. Managing Director Ian Hamilton explained: “Back then, the company was all about dimming. My father could see a space in the market and sought to provide for the demand.”
Over the years, the company moved into more advanced lighting control and home automation technology. Ian noted: “And, while building the company’s reputation for flexible, stylish and high-quality electrical wiring accessories, we have evolved our smart control proposition to create an innovative and highly-competitive range of lighting control and multi-room audio control systems that fulfil the demands of today’s tech-savvy customer.”
Hamilton Litestat is a family-run UK business and based in Bristol. Ian Hamilton believes that quality of both design and manufacture is the core of the business. He commented: “It’s this quality that’s driven Hamilton’s product development programme over the past 50 years and has kept our customers loyal. From our early dimming days, we’ve expanded into a complete turnkey, one-stop-shop for all domestic wiring needs.”
Today, the company’s products include circuit protection, electrical wiring accessories, LED dimming solutions, smart lighting control, multi-room audio control, as well outdoor lighting and power. Ian noted: “This allows our customers to purchase all their electrical wiring products from a single source, which offers clear business benefits as all our products are designed to work seamlessly together, so there is no fear of costly incompatibility issues.”
The company’s traditional customer-base are wholesalers and installers, but its customer base has expanded in recent years to include interior designers and property developers. Ian noted: “The design and finish of wiring accessories has entered onto the interior projects brief, and often a designer will want a bespoke solution. We’re able to provide this service, with short production runs being a particular strength of the company.”
One part of the company’s expansion has seen it enter the circuit protection market. An already mature sector, so why did the company see an opportunity here? Ian explained: “Much like my father did in the early days, we recognised a gap in the market. Contractors wanted a better looking, aesthetically pleasing consumer unit… [and] the changing requirements of BS7671 Amendment 3 meant we could develop new products to comply with the updated regulations and customer need.”
“It was a fantastic opportunity for us to enter this sector and add to our product offering. Our good-looking range with its sleek curved design certainly stands out from an aesthetic point of view, and we took the issue of safety to a new level becoming the first manufacturer to incorporate intumescent gland adaptors that expand when exposed to heat, acting as a fail-safe for enclosure containment. As a result, the range has been really well received, so much so that it even surpassed our expectation.”
In preparation for the next 50 years, Hamilton has undergone an expansion and restructure. Ian explained: “We’ve developed our Bristol site into a turnkey production, sales and distribution centre and grown our sales team to deliver an even higher level of customer service. The new Customer Contact Centre now handles all enquiries, while we also have our new Centre of Excellence, which incorporates our engineering, design and manufacturing services. This – along with expanding our technical design team – is helping us to develop new products that not only look good but also deliver the latest technology demanded of today’s smart devices in a 24/7 connected society. We’re also growing our customised product capabilities and bespoke solutions to provide more flexibility for our customers.”
To help support its growing number of customers the company is investing in training including free smart control courses for installers, as well as providing smart control training equipment to those working towards their qualifications in colleges. Ian explained: “Additionally, we continue to support our wholesale customers and in 2019 we will add two new Mobile Demonstration Vehicles (MDVs) to our fleet. We’ve been running Contractor Days for some time with our existing MDV, but the new additions will mean we can better respond to the increasing requests to attend Contractor Days, both in the north and south of the country.”
With five decades of trading under its belt it would be fair to say the company has had many highlights, what are Ian’s? “There are so many. But one that particularly stands out was in 2015. We entered a recognised industry trade award for the first time with the launch of our LEDstat dimmer. We were selected as a finalist and received a commendation. Although we didn’t win, at the awards evening the whole room gave a really welcoming cheer when Hamilton’s name was read out. That’s when I knew the brand had earned respect from its peers in what is generally agreed to be a very crowded marketplace.”
Ian continued: “But in addition to this, one thing that means an awful lot to me personally is the loyalty and length of service our employees have given to us. Many have been working for Hamilton almost since the business started, and some agreed to stay with us when our headquarters moved to Bristol. That loyalty is really valued and is what makes our staff the best in the business.”
Where’s the party?
A 50th anniversary is a real achievement. So where is the party? Ian noted: “We decided that there’s no better way to celebrate the success of 50 years than by giving back to the local community. We held a charity bike ride on 6-7 September. The gruelling 110-mile route began at Hamilton’s original home in Teddington, London, and headed west to its current headquarters in Brislington, Bristol, where the company has been manufacturing for some years. As well as representing the journey the company’s taken, we also raised funds for the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, so was a way for us to also support a very worthy local cause.”
Ian concluded: “We will also have a surprise celebration with our employees and with our key customers that have helped us over the past 50 years, but I can’t go into too much detail or I’d spoil the surprise.”