ROCK Oil is proud to announce that it is to be recognised in the 2020 Queen's Awards for Enterprise for outstanding achievement in international trade. Though famous for involvement in motorsport, our major activities are spread across a variety of industries which include agricultural, automotive, commercial, industrial, marine, and motorcycle. World Championship winning performances in motorsport have led to blending and manufacturing lubricants for some of the world’s top motorcycle, car, and engine manufacturers.
Export sales are the pinnacle of our business and where we see all elements of the organisation come together. Aligned these elements allow us to sell products into countries where for the customer buying locally produced products may be easier and at first glance cheaper. The technical prowess of the Rock Oil range backed by the British reputation for quality and proven on racetracks across the globe has created a demand for the brand. Even during the current crisis we’re still receiving new enquiries from abroad.
With new export partnerships developing in Spain, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and Pakistan. Although the UK is facing a temporary lockdown for most of the population, we continue to develop these markets and manufacture our lubricant products for essential services. A common theme we see often when visiting distributors abroad is the pride of using products manufactured in Britain.
To emphasise our belief in our standing as a British company, in 2019 we joined the Made in Britain organisation. A group that brings together the British manufacturing community, united with the use of a registered collective mark. At Rock Oil designing, developing, and producing our products in the UK isn’t just a matter of geography, it is one of the cornerstones of our family-run business. By applying the Made in Britain mark on each of our manufactured products we’re making it clear to buyers and consumers that we manufacture here in England to the very highest standards.
We have had an overwhelmingly positive response from our distributors who can display it as a point of pride in their own marketplace. To be able to display this mark, and now to be recognised for such a prestigious accolade as the Queen’s Award for Enterprise gives all the staff involved in the entire manufacturing and production process the pride that Britain can go forward, compete, and win.
Simply being in the UK would not be enough to make a world-class product. Extensive research and development work within our in-house laboratory ensure that existing ranges are revisited and improved, and new products are designed to meet any emerging standards and approvals. To that end we recently completed the development of our new head office and laboratory building equipped with over £1 million of quality control and research and development testing equipment. Throughout this period of redevelopment, re-investment in people and equipment was and continues to be at the forefront of the company’s strategy.
Customer visits and training are a large part of our culture, at both our manufacturing plant and at the customer’s marketplace. This includes sharing exhibition stands with our importers. As we’re able to work alongside our export partners and support their own understanding of their market at the same time. Rock Oil’s history with export partners began in 1983 when our Group Chairman Charles Hewitt secured our first distributor in New Zealand on the strength of our support in motorcycle racing. Australia and the United States followed soon afterwards.
Since that time, the annual total sales for the business has grown from less than £4 million to approaching £35 million this year. Our involvement in motorsport has grown from trackside support to single riders to series sponsors of the British Superbike Championship, which is the biggest domestic motorcycle championship in the world. Besides our commercial partnering of the series we remain committed to working with individual athletes and motorsport teams. We currently partner with a number of premier teams competing on both the British and World stages, and we’re proud to have been involved with more than 20 World Champions throughout our sponsorship journey.
The global presence of the Rock brand has never been higher and our commitment to promotion through motorsport remains resolute. The award is also a great tribute to Group Chairman Charles Hewitt’s involvement in Rock Oil’s export journey: “During the near 40 years I’ve been on the export trail, I have found it humbling to witness the absolute faith in British integrity and quality. The respect shown (globally) for the UK is fantastic... For Rock, it’s a privilege to showcase the UK and us personally. As a quality-driven business, it accords with our objectives. Whilst at the same time it is a massive tonic for staff morale to be appreciated in so many far-flung places.”
Rock Oil also has an extensive history launching innovative products, especially for racing and our top tier racing lubricant Synthesis XRP is testament to this technical prowess. Our synthetic air filter oil (Eco Foam) negates the need for harmful cleaning solutions on air filters, and won consumable product of the year in Dirtrider: a U.S. motorcycle magazine. These products have been tested at the very forefront of motorsport and have helped Rock Oil of supported riders and athletes in varied disciplines win over 20 World Championships.
What is most interesting is that although we export now to over 75 countries, only a small percentage of sales are motorsport products. But almost every enquiry is borne out from the motorsport partnerships and the technical expertise involved. Our dedication to quality, continuous improvement, and innovation has resulted in accreditation to BS EN 9001, 14001, and 18001. We have received recommendations and formal factory approvals by many leading manufacturers such as BMW, Ford, Jaguar Land Rover, Kawasaki, MAN Truck & Bus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Scania, Suzuki, Triumph, Volkswagen Audi Group, and Volvo plus ACEA, API, CIK, JASO and NMMA accreditation.
During recent years we have worked closely with several export partners including China, Malaysia, and Iraq to help develop their domestic markets. In each of these markets British manufacturing was identified as a key driver in the buying decision. If we take Iraq where the national grid can only support four per cent of the country’s electricity demands, and every building is supported by a generator for most of their basic needs (heating/cooling, refrigeration and lighting). These generators must be reliable in order to provide basic living standards, and so the consumers look to international and specifically British brands to support them over domestic offerings.
We provide a great deal of training and support to all of our markets especially in the areas of technical and marketing expertise. We work hard to robustly demonstrate this through every aspect of the product, from research and development of its initial requirements and specifications, right through to labelling and marketing. We use our export success to demonstrate to the UK market that our products can compete from a technical and commercial basis in the global marketplace against any of our competitors, regardless of size.
Our recognition for the Queen’s Award for Enterprise would not have been possible without the hard work, dedication, and continued support of our staff and partners. We also owe a debt of gratitude to the Department for International Trade for their encouragement on our export journey, and to Warrington Council for being forward-thinking, for supporting our company through multiple relocations through the years, and for their assistance in the development of our new offices in the centre of Warrington.
We’re proud to be part of a business that represents the best of British and to be able to showcase our manufacturing and technical innovations on a global stage. We will continue to create and deliver market-leading, sustainable solutions for our customers when and where they need them by ensuring that our people and products excel.