Mike Lord, Stiltz
Mike Lord, Chairman and CEO of Stiltz Homelifts

Homelifts manufacturer Stiltz Homelifts has firmly established itself as a globally-recognised brand, with its products available in 37 countries. By the end of last year, on its 10-year anniversary, the firm reflected its continued growth by reporting a significant increase in turnover. It has also been busy with recruiting new members of staff and moving into its new headquarters in Kingswinford, West Midlands. THIIS chats to Mike Lord, Chairman and CEO at Stiltz Homelifts, to find out more…

As one of the fastest growing businesses in the homecare and lifestyle lifts sector, these are exciting times for Stiltz Homelifts. The UK firm started only in 2010, but it has grown steadily ever since, with its products now sold in three continents.

Mike Lord, Chairman and CEO at Stiltz Homelifts, has had the privilege to see the company thrive over the years as he was involved with working at the company from very early on.

“To start with, it was coaching the owners to get things better organised and helping with sales and finance particularly. I subsequently invested and became Chairman in 2014.

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“In 2017 we did a management buyout where three of the four founders left the business. At this point I became CEO (as well as Chairman), working full time within the business.”

Mike has been working in the mobility industry most of his working life. Working at Sunrise Medical in its golden era of the 1990s gave him great grounding, he says, in lots of different roles.

He continues: “This culminated in an MBO of Minivator in 2001, growing the business until we sold it to Handicare in 2010. I then spent a number of years investing in various businesses and sectors, with Stiltz being one of these.

Stiltz Homelifts
Stiltz and Dolphin Midlands working together to install the DIY SOS Homelift

“We had some good and some bad investments during this time, but Stiltz is definitely the jewel in the crown. I was also on the BHTA Board for over 10 years serving as Chair and President trying to do my bit to help the industry as a whole.”

Best-selling products

Stiltz has kept to doing what it does best, specialising only in homelifts. All of them have different applications and sell well, explains Mike, but the Plus products are becoming the predominant part of the range around the world.

Both the Duo+ and the Trio+ lifts have moved the needle dramatically as far as in-home mobility is concerned, he says, not just because of the now well-known dual rail technology making it a free-standing homelift, but because they blend the aesthetics of a stylish piece of furniture with assistive technology.

Stiltz products are designed to be aesthetically pleasing for both younger and older people.

“The differentiator for us though is that we want to make the product more aspirational, not just needs-driven, so our customers buy before the need is so great that it becomes a distress purchase.

“We want our customers to continue to be proud of their home and the life-enhancing effects of buying a Stiltz Homelift. For us it’s not who pays for the lift that’s important, private pay or Disabled Facilities Grant, but that everyone gets a great solution for their mobility needs as well as a great looking solution.”

Proud achievements

Stiltz have been the proud recipient of many awards over the years, but probably the feather in its cap was receiving The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade last year in recognition of its global export success.

As the award is recommended by the Prime Minister, and approved by Her Majesty the Queen, it is considered to be one of the highest accolades to be bestowed on a UK business.

“The proudest though is the fantastic teamwork we manage across the business, which just enables the exceptionally fast growth in the UK, Europe, Australia and the USA.”

Stiltz Lifts
Stiltz Homelift

The growth of the company has meant that Stiltz is on a recruitment drive. As Mike explains: “We have a great management team in place made up from industry specialists as well as those from outside the mobility industry.

“This makes for an energetic and visionary dynamic. We’re now building these teams further to enable each department to function at full capacity and to really get down to the business of ‘getting things done’.”

Stiltz is currently seeking new additions across a number of departments in all three of its UK locations. It is, as Mike adds, particularly keen to speak to experienced installers, lift engineers and builders as it’s this team which is growing exponentially.

Stiltz now boasts over 350 employees worldwide and it needs good people to help continue the growth, Mike says. “We are growing faster each year and so we need to grow the team faster too.”

Overcoming challenges

Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, as it has been for many businesses in the sector. However, Mike adds, this was strangely not because it stopped the sales growth, but more about how it impacted on supply chain and logistics.

“We have had to make significant changes to how our in-home teams work, and of course our staff had to get used to remote working. On top of that, container shipment shortages, breaks in supply chain (our factory was shut for two months early on) and chip shortages have proved a challenge, which we have now only just recovered from.”

Despite this, Mike says that he was proud with the way the whole team responded. Early on in the pandemic, Stiltz decided to keep trading, unlike many other homelift and stairlift providers who completely shut up shop, according to Mike.

“We felt we owed it to our customers to continue providing our products if there was a need for them,” says Mike.

“Naturally, in the first month or two we were learning as we went and therefore proceeded with caution – both to protect our customers and our staff. However, everyone very quickly got into a rhythm with the new style of working and sales rapidly recovered.”

He continues: “Once the first lockdown started to ease, our lifts were literally flying out of the door. The demand was unprecedented. And throughout the second and third lockdowns, this demand has continued and Stiltz Homelifts is seeing sales records being broken in the UK, USA and Rest of World markets, on a regular basis.”

COVID safety measures are still in place, says Mike, with Stiltz acutely aware that its target audience are some of the more vulnerable members of society.

All of its surveyors, builders and installers who operate in customers’ homes are armed with full PPE and are careful to take customer wishes into consideration.

Mike comments: “The overwhelming majority of customers are now happy to have us visit them in the home and prefer personal interaction to video demonstrations. It’s important for our customers to be reassured about such important decisions as lift positioning, levels of building work needed and other fundamentals to installing a homelift.”

Stiltz launch event
UK dealers exploring the new Trio+ at the launch event in 2017

Another challenge, as Mike afore mentioned, has been delays over the last few months caused by a lack of available containers in China. This has consequently caused a significant uplift in container costing, but Mike asserts that Stiltz is still managing to get deliveries into all key locations.

He adds: “While customers are seeing slightly longer lead times, we prioritise our most vulnerable purchasers to ensure they have the product in as short a time as possible.”

Growing dealer network

The distribution model for Stiltz changes a lot by country, but two thirds of its sales are via the dealer. Stiltz distributes its products using both a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model and a dealer network but the UK is unique, says Mike, in that it is the only place where there is a social services model. “So we are beginning to tackle that too, through dealers where we can,” he says.

Stiltz offers different levels of dealer interaction, as Mike explains: “Its Premier Partners manage the whole process including sale, installation and after care, while Referral Partners will just pass leads to our consumer team in return for a healthy commission when the lead converts to a sale. There’s also a hybrid Affiliate Partner level.”

Says Mike: “I’m delighted that we’ve got some great Premier Partners who are fully committed to making Stiltz Homelifts a success for their business.”

The Referral Partner programme has been running for a few years now and Stiltz is currently looking to re-invigorate and expand it.

“We will be reaching out to existing partners in person, by phone and by email to remind them of the benefits of the programme. We will also be targeting dealers who haven’t had a working relationship with Stiltz Homelifts in the past, with a view to encouraging more dealers to take part.

“We are also seeking more Premier Partners for long-term strategic alliances in the social services market, so please get in touch if this is your bag!”

Premier Partners are offered full product training at the firm’s state-of-the-art Kingswinford Head Office training centre. This enables dealers to consult during the sales process and be able to install and offer after-sales servicing. Enhanced marketing support is provided as well as a full range of assets to assist with the sales process.

Meanwhile, Affiliate Partners can also benefit from the sales consultation training on offer while Referral Partners can take advantage of a generous commission of £1,000 per confirmed sale, with an added loyalty pay-out at each five-sale marker.

Stiltz, Mike shares, is currently working on a fantastic new marketing initiative, which will give UK dealers a unique route to accessing new customers. “We’ll be sharing more about that in the next few months,” he adds.

Investing in the future

Stiltz has hugely ambitious financial plans for the next five years, Mike says.

“We’ve continued to grow at an ever-increasing rate and we don’t see this stopping in the foreseeable future. We are the homelift market leaders and have the resources to continue to invest to make sure we are well in to the future.”

Certainly, the market for homelifts is booming and the demand looks set to increase, with anecdotal evidence showing that people are determined to remain in their own homes. The pandemic and associated negativity surrounding care homes has amplified this further.

“Homelifts are clearly the future. They are safe, self-contained and the flexible positioning makes them sought after. With the technological and design advances currently being developed, there truly will be a Stiltz Homelift for everyone in the coming years.”

www.stiltz.co.uk

Stiltz homelift
The compact and flexible Stiltz Duo+ Homelift
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https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Mike-Lord-backdrop-1.jpg?fit=900%2C599&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Mike-Lord-backdrop-1.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Liane McIvorNewsroomSupplier NewsSupplier SpotlightTrade FocusTrade Newsaccess,Duo+,homelifts,Mike Lord,Stiltz Homelifts,TrioHomelifts manufacturer Stiltz Homelifts has firmly established itself as a globally-recognised brand, with its products available in 37 countries. By the end of last year, on its 10-year anniversary, the firm reflected its continued growth by reporting a significant increase in turnover. It has also been busy with recruiting...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals