The Worker Is King: An insight into our client, GKB Machines Ltd
From COVID-19 discussions to company values and worker experience, our client GKB Machines offer an insight into their company.
GKB Machines, the company behind sustainable, reliable and robust maintenance machinery for natural, synthetic and hybrid turf are offering you a closer look into their company and an employee spotlight on Tom Shinkins, the UK’s Operations Director.
Tom Shinkins has worked at GKB Machines since GKB Machines Ltd founded in 2015. Tom offers some knowledge from his past experience, his love for the company and how the UK side has had to adapt during COVID-19.
How has GKB Machines Ltd had to adapt the business during COVID-19?
We’ve had to do online training and sales calls using digital channels such as Zoom, which has proven to be a manageable alternative given the circumstances. Demos have become very different with social distancing. There have been fewer people on site during the demonstrations and we’ve been prioritising essential meetings that allow us to work within government guidelines. Now the rules have been relaxed slightly, we’re able to travel further and showcase our products throughout the entire UK. The main issue has been that I’ve had to drive to and from each meeting on the same day as I don’t have the luxury of staying in a hotel after a long journey.
GKB have recently launched the Deep Tine Aerator (DTA), how has launching a new machine gone during COVID-19?
Very well, we have had lots of enquiries and interest for demos and seeing the product. We’re now able to follow up on these requests and are still receiving new enquiries daily. As an innovative company we are continually striving for success and this was a big factor in the launching of the DTA during this time. We were determined to not let the current crisis stop us from celebrating our successes in product engineering. We believe a time like this is perfect for driving forward and offering customers the best machines yet. In terms of the actual of launch of the product, we had to adapt. Usually we would of invited lots of dealers and customers to see the machine first hand however, instead we sent out videos to our dealers of the new machine and completed video training of the product. With any new launch we also do social media and PR around this and this didn’t change.
In your opinion, what do you think life will look like for the sporting industry post COVID-19?
I believe that golf has the potential to cash in and reset itself. This is simply due to more people not having the access to other sports for prolonged periods. It’s more likely for both men and women to be dusting off their golf clubs and finding their local course to play. Having said this, I think it may be a more difficult time for greenkeepers. As footfall increases, hours may change, and it will become hard to keep maintenance up. Equipping themselves with the most efficient and effective equipment is key.
In terms of football and cricket, I cannot see these happening on a local level for a while, however maintenance of the ground will still continue. It’s great to see local clubs getting help from larger clubs in ensuring their grounds are kept in the best possible condition.
As the only UK Sales Director and Operations Manager, are you able to explain more about you?
I started helping my dad when he worked at BLEC Machinery, I was 15 years old and helped during school holidays, evenings and often weekends. When I left school at 16, I was given the opportunity to join Peterborough Milton Golf Club as an apprentice, where I studied an NVQ in sports turf management and greenkeeping. At just 20 years old, I spread my wings and ‘officially’ joined BLEC as a sales demonstrator. I spent working here for 15 years and I found my passion and love for demonstrating, travelling worldwide and selling turf equipment. In 2006, BLEC became the UK distributor for GKB equipment. This allowed me to develop a long working relationship with the directors at GKB and their robust products. I also was able to gain a full understanding and experience the true reliability of the machines for when I started GKB Machines Ltd in 2015.
What is a ‘day in the life’ like for you?
Definitely early starts and late finishes, as well as many miles and constantly charging my phone. But in all seriousness, it’s a way of life for me. I love visiting my customers, making new deals, doing demos and looking at the latest product developments.