“We have already won one new contract and are hoping to seal another two very shortly. Being a UK made and UK Certified product really helped in those discussions.” – Richard Scholes, Managing Director, Parrs
18th May 2022
Parrs has been supplying workplace equipment for 135 years. Their family business has generations of experience and has carved out a reputation as one of the best in the industry.
A popular product in their range is Kick Step, a step stool often used by retailers for stocking and picking. It’s the only product Parrs manufactures themselves, and it’s made right here in the UK.
In 2020, Kick Step underwent product testing and certification at Test & Research Centre and was subsequently granted a T&RGETMARK.
Parrs was constantly battling with low-quality, low-price step stools sold by competitors. It was a common source of friction in the retail market – the buyers are trying to save money, while their health & safety people make the case for quality over cost. A high turnover of workers in this industry makes them vulnerable to accident claims, so they’re acutely aware of mitigating potential dangers.
Parrs shared this sense of responsibility towards the workers who use its step stools every day. They recognised that they’re working at height – a low height, yes, but nevertheless enough for a nasty fall – and that they deserve a well-made product to minimise the risks.
In short, Parrs needed to differentiate itself from cheap competitor products and confidently market Kick Step on quality. The trouble was, they had no way to prove that they were any better than the rest.
Parrs decided that the best way to prove their quality credentials was to have Kick Step certified by a Certification Body. With an independent seal of approval, they could differentiate their product from the poor-quality ones available on the market.
Their first step was to modify the design of Kick Step to comply with the step stool standard, BS EN 14183. It cost several thousand pounds in re-tooling but as Richard Scholes, Managing Director at Parrs, puts it, ‘it was the right thing to do’. It was all part of their commitment to promoting a good quality product.
The redesign enabled them to seek Certification from a third-party Certification Body. Unfortunately, that wasn’t as straightforward as they hoped but after a few false starts, they found Test & Research Centre.
“We spent over a year talking to another well-known Certification Body, trying to get the Kick Step certified. We lost over a year discussing it and it was so confusing. They seemed to make it more complicated than it needed to be.”
“The Test & Research Centre were helpful, constructive, efficient, and a lot less stuffy than I had expected from a test centre! They gave us a very simple approach to testing and Certification, one that we could understand and one we could work with.”
The Test & Research Centre evaluated the Kick Step against the requirements of BS EN 14183. This included strength, deflection and sliding tests, as well as verifying its dimensions.
The production of the Kick Step was also assessed, through a Production Assessment, which included looking at:
Having successfully passed each stage of this process, Kick Step was awarded the T&RGETMARK, a certification mark that’s owned and managed by Test & Research Centre Ltd.
Having earned their T&RGETMARK, Parrs didn’t waste any time in promoting the Kick Step’s new selling point to their customers.
It helped to lift Kick Step out of the low-quality, low-cost market and meant Parrs achieved their goal of being able to compete on quality – because now they could prove it.
The health and safety teams at the retail giants who buy their products were happy. Because they could now clearly explain to more price-sensitive colleagues what the difference is between a Parrs Kick Step and a cheaper imported step stool, and why it makes sense to stick with the Certified product.
“With the T&RGETMARK, we were able to independently demonstrate product conformity – that’s been a real benefit. It’s a great marketing tool for us. Historically, we have always been a little more expensive than imported products. We have been able to maintain existing clients against cheaper imports and win new business. It has helped us develop better relationships with our customers, especially the ones that are cost sensitive because it makes them look at the wider picture. We are continuing to target other major retailers, using the successes we have had so far.”
Importantly, they could also offer reassurance to users of their step stool that they were standing on a quality product that has been proven to meet the product safety standard. They know it’s not going to slide out from under them or crack under pressure.
To maintain their T&RGETMARK, Test & Research Centre will put Kick Step through regular surveillance audits to make sure the product remains as good as it was during the initial assessment.
So how does Richard feel now, a little over 12 months after Kick Step was awarded the T&RGETMARK? In his own words:
“We are really pleased we got the Kick Step Certified. It has helped us enormously in marketing the product with confidence. The product has always sold quite well into a couple of the top four supermarkets. Having it Certified by the Test and Research Centre meant we were able to promote it into some of the other leading supermarkets. We have already won one new contract, and are hoping to seal another two very shortly. Being a UK made and UK certified product really helped in those discussions.”
The Test & Research Centre was founded to help make access products and their users safer.
If you’re a manufacturer, supplier or importer of non-powered access products and you’re looking to have a product tested or Certified, contact us for a friendly chat about how Test & Research Centre can help.