Domestic fire and CO2 alarm manufacturer, Aico, is at the top of its game and Marketing Manager, Alex Garmston, tells us how its innovative approach and emphasis on education ensures that it stays there.
Aico, part of Ei Electronics, is the market leader in domestic fire and carbon monoxide protection and provides high-quality smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms and accessories, all designed, developed and manufactured as its factory in Shannon, Ireland.
Aico alarms meet all UK standards with a wide range of sensor types to ensure every home is protected, and it also offers expert technical support and advice on alarm selection, siting and installation, as well as personalised specification documents and a dedicated installer training scheme, Expert Installer.
With a primary goal of making homes safer, education, quality, service and innovation are the cornerstones of the company.
In terms of education, Aico is proud to work with schools, colleges, and universities, educating young people on fire safety within the home and offering support with careers advice and guidance to help create opportunities for the next generation and to share its vision.
Offering market-leading support to customers, a team of experienced Regional Specification Managers (RSMs) across the UK deliver free, CPD accredited training countrywide with the use of Aico’s mobile training and demonstration units. This kind of training is second-to-none in quality and is imperative for Aico in order to ensure the correct alarms and technologies are utilised. The RSM’s also work closely with registered social landlords and distributors, whilst the in-house technical team is available to provide dedicated technical support. An internal sales teams provide excellent support over the phone to create a seamless ordering process for every customer.
An award-winning Expert Installer training programme provides electrical contractors with updates on legislation, products and technologies and facilitates the sharing of best practice. This training also provides all of the information that they require to select, site, install and maintain Aico alarms to the highest quality.
Finally, Aico offers state-of-the-art Centre of Excellence training facilities, based at its Head Office in Oswestry, Shropshire, at no charge to local organisations and trusts, including councils and local charities. Here, Aico can deliver the Expert Installer training sessions, offer students of all ages the opportunity to attend Fire Awareness and Safety Sessions as well as provide local organisations the facilities to host networking events and business meetings to assist and promote the work that they do.
“We believe it is our responsibility to not only create the right safety products, but also to raise awareness of dangers through our educational campaigns to communities, alongside promoting best practice through our Expert Installer training programme,” explains Marketing Manager, Alex Garmston.
For the most reliable life-saving detection, every alarm is individually tested at multiple points of manufacture and never batch tested to ensure quality and reliability. Each individual alarm not only meets every approval but is tested several times, primarily on initial assembly, at the test and calibration stage and a final thorough test. Every alarm is also third party accredited to the relevant British or European standard, and both Aico and Ei Electronics operate to ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015 and OHSAS 18001:2007 standards.
Aico’s dedicated research and development team continues to innovate with new products and applications, and together with Ei Electronics, it holds more than 20 patents on life-saving alarm detection technologies. Aico has been first to the market with many ground-breaking innovations that improve protection and make maintenance easier, including rechargeable battery backup, wireless radio frequency interconnection, domestic multi-sensor fire alarms and digital information extraction.
“We are pioneers in the industry, providing unparalleled levels of customer support, from our dedicated team of Regional Specification Managers (RSMs) covering the whole of the UK to our knowledgeable internal sales and technical teams,” explains Alex.
“We have a mission statement that reflects our market leader status, which was formulated with input from each and every Aico colleague,” Alex continues. “This is: ‘The leader in home life safety, promoting best practice, engaging with our communities and delivering safer homes.’”
Aico’s company culture is a positive culture of trust, passion, shared genius, teamwork and accountability to deliver safer communities. Aico colleagues collaborate and support one another and are driven to provide quality services in all that they do. The firm is also very active in the local area and a dedicated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme, Aico in the Community, was developed in 2018 to help schools, colleges, charities and community organisations achieve their goals and to help build sustainable futures.
“Our culture, our values, behaviours and ways of working all contribute to the success of our CSR programme. Aico in the Community is about doing good, we are passionate about what we do and everyone wants to be involved and support the programme. The culture extends beyond the workplace setting; the whole company are keen to attend social events such as meals, bowling, go-karting and other activities, which reflects the values and behaviours that underpin Aico.”
Despite the education, the innovation and the social responsibility, Aico is first and foremost, all about its people, without which the company would not be as successful as it is today. All Aico colleagues undertake a team development programme centred around Patrick Lencioni’s Five Behaviours of a Cohesive Team, which has demonstrated the commitment of every Aico colleague. This enables colleagues to review their personal and team effectiveness in the workplace to become more cohesive and effective, which subsequently drives the business forward for collective results. Every member of the Aico team had input into the creation of the values and mission statement, and these shape both the day-to-day running of the business as well as the future.
The firm also has a strong local leaning when it comes to recruitment, as the majority of Aico’s internal colleagues hail from the local area – something the company feels it is important as it presents opportunities and is a way of giving back to the local community.
Aico also has a stellar apprenticeship scheme, which was launched back in 2018 with local schools and colleges to engage and encourage students in their future careers.
“Almost 20% of internal colleagues are apprentices or have recently completed an apprenticeship and now have long-term career opportunities with Aico,” states Alex. “At Aico, we facilitate and encourage personal development, with over 10% of colleagues promoted from internal positions in the past 18 months. All of the management team have been promoted from within and over 20% of colleagues have been with Aico for 15-25 years.”
The covid-19 pandemic may have affected organisations throughout the world, but Alex tells us that Aico remained largely unscathed and that it is very much business as usual. In fact, the biggest challenge the firm faced, and continues to face, in the issue of tenant safety. He highlights:
“Whether this relates to high-rise blocks, sheltered accommodation or the private rented sector, the challenge of gaining access to properties is prevalent. Subsequently, resident engagement is imperative to managing and minimising this issue, which provides the basis for our efforts to increase engagement and raise awareness amongst tenants.”
Again, education is key here, and Aico has collaborated with Inside Housing, a publication targeted at the UK housing sector, on an initiative to highlight further bounds to resident engagement to collectively find solutions – the Resident Safety Campaign. This campaign ran throughout 2019 in its first phase and will continue during 2020 and beyond for phase two. The Resident Safety Campaign has been submitted for the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Best Partnership award.
As innovative as ever, Aico launched a product called SmartLINK Gateway, which provides real time data insight into connected fire and carbon monoxide alarms within a property. It also undertook a major acquisition of leading Internet of Things solutions provider, Homelync and is expanding its footprint in the Connected Home arena. Overall, Aico’s future looks very bright indeed.
“We are extremely excited and look forward to continuing innovations and progression.”
For business enquiries, contact Alex Garmston at Aico via www.aico.co.uk.