Name: Phil Linnecor
Position in company: Director
Efficiency to business is a pleasing word to hear. Discovering new ways of how to achieve maximum results for the least possible effort and time is something that saves fortunes whatever the size of an organisation. Germans are renowned for being efficient, from engineering to construction. They produce high-quality results, smoothly and often apparently effortlessly. One company that is promoting the efficiency of their French neighbours is Acorel, whose people counting systems are quietly taking over the world, making everyone’s lives more efficient in ways people don’t even realise most of the time.
A key component in this promotion of French efficiency is Phil Linnecor; the Director of their UK and Scandinavian business, whose base of operations is at the Braintree Enterprise Centre.
The Acorel Group was established in 1989 and they won their first contract in the UK in 1996, a project that was managed from France. The project was one of the first to display to a wider audience the power of their product. Being pitched against the reliability of the tried and tested human counting systems that were already in place on London’s Docklands Light Railway system, Acorel highlighted that versus the human results of 88% reliability, their system came in at 98%. Determined to build upon this exposure and initiative the company eventually opened its first subsidiary office to cover the UK market in 2010, a territory that has since grown to now also include Scandinavia.
A large part of this growth has been down to their UK Director, Phil, who joined the company when the office opened from a background in barcoding.
Challenged with a multitude of tasks from the outset, Phil says that he spent the first two years working from home trying to build awareness. Eventually, he took the decision to seek his own premises. This seems purely a decision based on efficiency.
Phil said: “I moved to Ignite’s Enterprise Centre in July 2014 to segregate work from pleasure. It enabled me to focus solely on work and not to have distractions outside of work.”
This seems a very straight forward decision however, how he ended up there was more roundabout. He was speaking with a member of staff at Braintree College about taking on an apprentice and mentioned that he was perhaps considering getting an office at Braintree Freeport. It was here that he was signposted to Liz Storey at Ignite, who after a short discussion, set him up with a unit which he has more than made his own since.
“It has greatly improved efficiency. In work I only focus on work. At home, no matter how hard you try, you always have other influences on your time.”
Premises have not been the only benefit that Ignite has been able to help with as they helped him find Vincent, one of his project managers.
The decision to move to the Enterprise Centre came at the right time as his office had just won a six year contract worth 3m Euros and there are certainly promising times ahead as the company aims to benefit from the new opportunities that technological advancements bring.
The three main technologies Phil deals with in his people counting business are Infra Red, which looks for change in the environment and detects people or objects in a zone, Lazer, which is currently installed on the Air Emirates cable car in London. This system generates a lazer curtain in an entrance or corridor. And finally there is the Stereoscopic system that uses 3D cameras.
Real time information is also being worked on at the moment, with transport companies investing millions to make their systems more efficient to help them save money and ultimately provide a better service.
Phil said: “There is currently a big effort from all transport companies to start improving. This will change people’s experience of travel. Soon you will be able to monitor your bus or train journey home from work on an app, by seeing how many people are on which part of the bus or train.”
While there is currently no need for Phil to leave his office for larger premises, it does not mean that his business has not grown.
“I have a team of engineers in Denmark as it is easier for them to be there. We have two in Denmark, one in Brazil and one in northern England,” Phil said.
The location seems to have been important as Phil acknowledges that it is good for London, good for Stansted Airport and there is reasonable parking for when he travels by train in to London. But his favourite thing about the Enterprise Centre is not something that Ignite has done, but something that he says has happened naturally.
Phil said: “There is a family atmosphere that has built up with the other businesses. Everyone helps each other. If someone has a problem, then there is always someone there who can help. I’ve seen it happen many times.”
Being a man of the world and a company director responsible for multimillion Euro contracts, he has plenty of advice to offer those interested in starting their own business: “Improve communication, make sure you have your customer interface ready, and whether you are selling through ebay or somewhere else, the key is making sure that you get noticed differently to your competition. Also, structuring how you are going to grow is vital. Don’t do everything straight away and remember that while you can’t fix everything, you need a plan to make sure that it can get fixed. And finally, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket by only using one supplier.”
Stressing that you should maximise the efficiency of your supply contracts and ensuring that they work for you is another form of efficiency that has worked wonders for Phil. When he worked from home and was establishing his branch, turnover averaged 145,000 Euros a year. Six months after being a resident at the Enterprise Centre, turnover reached 1.1m Euros a year and this year he is expecting it to reach 1.6m Euros. An efficient man running an efficient branch of a company that specialises in efficiency. That is a combination that Acorel and the general public can definitely count on.