The Measure of Greatness: The story of how one family business stepped up to the mark.
Setting The Scene: Scaling For Growth
When Patrick Bonner stepped into his father’s shoes to head up the family business of PJ Bonner after fourteen years with the company, he knew that PJ had left formidable footprints in the form of the exacting standards he’d set and maintained for the business over the previous forty years supporting many of the country’s leading production facilities.
As Ireland had grown during that time to become an advanced manufacturing powerhouse across a wide range of sectors, including food, dairy, pharma and medical, PJ Bonner had grown to match, offering the calibration and measuring instrumentation plus the expertise required to ensure that the production lines ran quickly and safely to deliver vital foods, medicines and equipment across Ireland and the world.
Now Patrick was tasked with raising the bar even higher so as to help their clients, many of them operating in some of the most demanding production environments imaginable, to set and exceed new standards in health, safety and quality whilst continuing to outperform international markets in productivity and efficiency.
How might he measure up to the challenge and scale PJ Bonner for even greater development and growth?
Taking A Reading Of The Market
The answer lay, as it always does, in the relationships which PJ Bonner had built up with customers, suppliers and its own team of expert engineers, some of whom had been with the company since almost the very beginning.
Whilst PJ, and now Patrick, had always been very hands-on in their dealings with their market, Patrick recognised the importance of getting an independent reading of both the nature and the temperature of those relationships, so that he might make better decisions on how to scale operations for the future whilst continuing to play to the traditional strengths of a family business.
And so he tasked Islandbridge to meet with his own team and with their customers and suppliers and visit them on-site to see and hear of the challenges they faced in operating a production facility, and to learn more about the services and support they required in these fast-moving and fast-changing environments, and how they rated PJ Bonner in delivering on those requirements now and into the future.
In order to determine the role that PJ Bonner plays in the smooth running of the manufacturing plant, Islandbridge first asked the question: ‘Who in the customer team is ultimately responsible for the health, safety and quality of the production lines?’
Traditionally, many of the relationships forged over the years were on the factory floor itself, technician to technician, but Patrick and his team reported that more and more they were working closely with those appointed by the Board to deliver Quality Assurance Management. These guardians were tasked with setting the overall expectations and standards around production and then putting into place the infrastructure, the procedures, and the practices to ensure that these were met, not just most of the time but all of the time.
And when Islandbridge met with PJ Bonner’s best customers first in the boardroom and then on a walk-through of the plant, these Quality Assurance Managers confirmed the vital role that they played in safeguarding the successful operation of a manufacturing or treatment facility.
Managers and their technical teams talked of the myriad of issues affecting production quality, safety and efficiency on the production line, and how these impacted on every aspect of the business, from factory floor to boardroom and onto the marketplace before being placed into the hands of the customer. Islandbridge heard of the responsibilities of managing the equipment and the procedures so that everyone and everything involved in the process played their part in matching and exceeding the standards required of their particular type of production.
And Islandbridge heard as well of the immediate and knock-on effects of any breakdown in the process, which might include loss of productivity, breakage of equipment, wasted resources, product recalls (and the attendant damage to reputation) and, worse still, injury or fatality.
In hearing these accounts, Islandbridge began to understand more of both the vital role of the Quality Assurance Manager and the equally-important part played by the team at PJ Bonner in safeguarding everyone and everything involved from beginning to end of the production-line and beyond into the marketplace.
Customer Care To The Highest Degree
When Islandbridge asked these customers what they required of their suppliers, they spoke of seeking expert partners, rather than simply-capable contractors, who would work closely with them to devise quality assurance programmes from the top-down, then the bottom-up, providing for every aspect of quality, health and safety, and productivity across the facility.
They spoke of the importance of experience across their partner-teams, of wanting to see evidence of both the management and technical expertise required to design and deliver bespoke programmes, which provided for both the pro-active and reactive components in the supply, monitoring and maintenance of the equipment central to the smooth operation of the production line, and the accurate reporting of the actions taken at each step of the process.
And they spoke too of how they had come to think of PJ Bonner as their strategic partners rather than just a team of technicians for hire. They talked of their commitment to their customers, and how Patrick and his team worked closely together with them to map the whole production environment so as to identify all of the potential risks to people, products and equipment, and to devise a programme and schedule the activities required to meet the exacting standards demanded by the operation.
And many of them spoke glowingly of how a member of Patrick’s team had gone above and beyond the standards required, remaining on site past finishing-time and working around the clock until a particular issue was resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
In their role as guardian, the Quality Assurance Manager and their counterparts across the different customer organisations, saw PJ Bonner as their faithful ally, equipping them with the resources they needed to secure the perimeter of their plants and maintain the integrity of their processes, whilst keeping everyone and everything involved healthy, safe and productive with the minimum of interruptions to operations.
A Brand Made To Measure
Armed with the information and insight gained from their customer surveys and site-visits, Islandbridge set out to equip PJ Bonner in turn to tell their story to those tasked with safeguarding the vital operation of their production facility.
First, they considered how best to begin to translate the strengths of this remarkable family business into a brand identity that immediately inspired confidence in their offering. Whilst the name PJ Bonner spoke of the origins of the business, it disguised the progress that its founder first, and now his son and daughter, had made in setting the standards for others to follow, so that clients and competitors alike referred admiringly to Bonners and their standing in the sectors they served. And so, Patrick and his team, with his father’s all-important blessing, made the apparently small, but very significant, decision to use ‘Bonner’ alone as the name of the business.
Then, they tasked designers Crilly & Wardell to translate this new version of the family-name over the door of the business into a visual identity that would speak of the confidence of a trusted partner and faithful ally to their target customers in the advanced manufacturing facilities across Ireland and, increasingly, in their sister-facilities across the water in the UK. The result is a strong and assured logo, or word-based mark, which cleverly incorporates the dial that positions Bonner squarely at the crux of the production-line, working tirelessly to safeguard the operation.
And finally, they turned to wordsmith Katherine Ridge to craft the copy that described the programme-based approach that Bonner takes to each assignment, ensuring that every process, every action, every piece of equipment is made to measure for the customer and the particular demands of their product and people and the manufacturing-line that delivers it.
So has the new Bonner brand framework helped moved the dial for Patrick and his organisation?
Patrick reports that the quality of the initial conversations that they are having with prospective customers has improved greatly, with discussions now starting from the global view of production and leading quickly to planning for a programme to support delivery to the required standards.
Meanwhile, longstanding clients have expressed their delight that Bonner is demonstrating the same commitment to their own organisation as they’ve shown to their customers, making it much easier for clients to make the business case internally for a world-class Quality Assurance Programme, and to refer on Bonner to colleagues.
Patrick and his team now feel truly equipped to take the lead in supporting Irish manufacturers both here and in the UK to continue to outperform international producers in the quality, health, safety and efficiency of production.
Building on the work completed by Islandbridge, and through listening to what their customers want, Bonner have added a new Controls Solutions Team providing digitalised plantwide monitoring and control for Industry 4.0 as standard.
“As a family-business, we had sometimes underestimated the part we play in the operations of the manufacturing giants we serve.
Now, thanks to our work with the team at Islandbridge and our greater understanding of the importance of what we do for our customers, we’ve successfully scaled for growth and are ready to step up to the mark in continuing to design and deliver world-class programmes for market-leading producers and their customers in Ireland, the UK and across the world.”
Patrick Bonner, Managing Director, Bonner
Project Leadership: Patrick Bonner of Bonner
Brand Direction: Gerard Tannam of Islandbridge
Visual Identity: Adrian Crilly of Crilly & Wardell
Copywriting: Katherine Ridge of ProfessionalWriting.ie
Website Design: Adrian Crilly