Although located in Newcastle upon Tyne, pump and forecourt specialists, W O Silmon Ltd. does not confine its activities to the North East of England.
Mike Silmon explains: “We will follow up any opportunities wherever we believe that we can put up a competitive bid. Currently we are refitting the fuelling facilities of a national network of regional distribution units. This project, has taken us from Bristol in the south up to Glasgow in the north.”
“The company’s expertise is in project management – that means understanding the requirement and putting together the right mix of skills and resources needed to deliver a successful implementation – on time and within budget. Our expertise covers mechanical and electrical engineering and we work in partnership with a building contractor who looks after groundwork and civil engineering associated with forecourt installations,” says Mike Silmon.
Founded as plumbers’ in the thirties and restarted after the war by Ossie Silmon in 1945, the family-owned business is now being managed by Mike’s son Mark, who is responsible for day-to day operations, while Mike looks after the commercial side.
Says Mike Silmon, “We like to think that we are probably among the oldest companies serving the petrol and fuel oil industry. We have a longstanding relationship with Merridale which goes back to the first commercial diesel pumps with integrated electronic monitoring.
[quote]Having key suppliers on our doorstep gave us an important advantage in putting together customised installations. We are project orientated and disciplined about cost control and delivery commitments.[/quote]
W O Silmon Ltd moved to its existing premises in Newcastle upon Tyne during the Eighties. Neighbours at the time included various specialist crafts including a fibre glass workshop which provided enclosures for petrol pumps.
Mike Silmon continues, “Having key suppliers on our doorstep gave us an important advantage in putting together customised installations. We are project orientated and disciplined about cost control and delivery commitments.”
All Silmon engineers are home grown having served company apprentices, although Mike’s ‘Dad’ Ossie insisted that both Mike and Mark should serve their apprenticeships outside of the business.
Mike Silmon believes that this ‘direction’ has helped them to keep in touch with the close knit culture and heritage of Tyneside’s shipbuilding and more lately offshore engineering.
For instance, current projects on Tyneside include both diesel and petrol fuelling points within sensitive industrial complexes, such as oil storage installations and refineries. In another application, Merridale has provided a compatible card reader which enables authorised drivers to use their existing port authority ID card to access fuelling points. With over a thousand users, this has achieved a big cost saving in the provisioning of standard Merridale access keys.
The dockside covers a huge area with various partner organisations and this ability to adapt or customise the Merridale solution has led to further sales.
Mark takes up the narrative by listing the scope of Silmon clients, encompassing Regional Councils, Public and Private haulage contractors, Local Authorities, Fire, Police and Ambulance Services.
“Naturally we will install whatever monitoring system is requested by the customer. But in some cases the most important feature is the flexibility of the reports. We had a customer on Teesside who wanted to customise the reports to suit their requirements rather than just rely on the standard menu.
“In these cases we will look to see how the vendors can help us to secure the contract. And to be fair. Merridale have not only offered good support with our prices, they have been prepared to get involved with sales meetings. We have a good working relationship with Stephen Hannan for sales support and John Russell for Technical Support.
“Silmon staff are always in attendance for commissioning and in particular the training sessions for new customers which are quite valuable for ensuring continuity for after sales support.
“As Mike pointed out at the start of this interview, some of our installations are a long distance from Newcastle. I am happy to specify Merridale equipment because I am confident that I know that I can install this without any concerns about breakdowns.
“At the end of day our relationship is with the customers. They put their trust in us but to deliver this, we must have a good working relationship with our suppliers.” says Mark Silmon.
[box]Founder Ossie Silmon (1906 to 1984)
As a pipe work engineer, Ossie Silmon was involved in bringing water supplies to Bahrain in 1933 – an essential infrastructure enabling the start of oil production from the gulf state during the Thirties. On returning to the UK, Ossie worked in the Tyneside shipyards during the war years. He was well known in the close knit community and in 1945 he set up the business specialising in plumbing and pipe-work. Within months he secured his first major contract from BP and W O Silmon has been trading continuously since then. [/box]