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Burgess Hodgson helps keep ISL at the cutting edge

Posted: June 3, 2009

Innovate or die, that’s the motto that Derek Ward, managing director of passive fire protection specialist Intumescent Systems Ltd lives by.

But, while new product development might be his focus, he couldn’t bring new products to market without knowing exactly how the finances of his business were placed.

This is where Burgess Hodgson comes in. By providing up-to-date management accounts on a weekly basis, not only does the Canterbury-based accountancy firm ensure transparency of financial information, it gives Derek the confidence he needs to continue to innovate – and keep his business ahead of the competition.

In the last 26 years, the Dover-based manufacturer has seen its Envirograf-branded solutions to many fire prevention problems supplied to customers around the world. Its extensive range of products, combined with its technical expertise in passive fire protection, has seen the company become a world leader – not least in the number of new products it brings to market.

With potentially costly litigation becoming a factor for many architects, builders, and developers, it is vital that passive fire protection plays a crucial role in any new building or refurbishment project.

“We are the largest manufacturer in the world of passive fire protection products, which can be anything from fan covers to fire stop blocks, glazing strips to letterbox liners,” says managing director Derek Ward, who has enjoyed a close working relationship with Burgess Hodgson over the last ten years.

“These products are required by law – and we are one of few – if not the only company to make them, which is a fantastic position to be in.”

While much of the company’s business relates to new build properties – both commercial and residential, it has obviously seen a reduction in demand for its products in this area. However, this has been more than offset by other areas such as renovation work and loft conversions, where fire protection products are needed. .

And the company is certainly at the forefront when it comes to innovation. “I invent something twice a week, and these could last 20 years.  We’re just about to launch two new products that will be completely different from anything else on the market,” says Derek. “This is what keeps the firm running: the more products we produce, the better. Our biggest problem is that we have over 400 products, and we’re never quite sure what people are going to order until the last minute.”

With a prolific capacity for inventing new products, Derek needs to know that his business’s financial affairs are being looked after – which is where Burgess Hodgson comes in. The Canterbury-based firm has been working with Intumescent Systems for the last 10 years. It’s a relationship that has grown from strength to strength, based on what Derek says are the “excellent” levels of service that Burgess Hodgson provides.

The firm was originally recommended by the bank after Derek wanted a second opinion on Intumescent’s accounting procedures. So impressed was Derek by the level of insight that Andrew Miles and his team was able to provide that he dismissed his existing accountant – and brought Burgess Hodgson on board to manage his financial affairs.

Burgess Hodgson immediately provided on-site support to carry out the management accounts, book-keeping, payroll and tax. “It’s a close relationship,” says Derek. “Burgess Hodgson send a member of staff to us once or twice a week, or if we need extra support, they could be here for one or two weeks to manage the entire accounts process. It’s really hands-on support – and something that we couldn’t function without.”

For example, when ISL wanted to recruit a full-time qualified in-house finance administrator recently, it turned to Burgess Hodgson to find a suitable candidate.

Derek is convinced that Burgess Hodgson’s expertise and levels of customer service are what set it apart from its rivals. “Burgess Hodgson provides an excellent level of customer service, always responding to our needs quickly and efficiently.  The biggest benefit to us, though, is the ability to use its experience and expertise to help our business continue to move forward. In today’s tough manufacturing climate, this is what gives us an edge over the rest of the market.”