Bestobell is on the up believes managing director John Wall, and what's more, it's taking parent company, Flow Group with it. He explains, $quot;The resurgence of Bestobell business over the last three years has helped the Flow Group's sales grow to $45m, with 35 percent sales growth last year.$quot;

Bestobell, is one of the longest established cryogenic valve manufacturers in the world and is based in Sheffield, UK. As the figures show, following its acquisition by the British specialist valve manufacturer Flow Group Limited, six years ago, sales have boomed. The company says the new management team is happily to blame for this one, and their gradual improvements in the Bestobell business, have doubled sales over the last 5 years.

So what has fueled this increase in business?
Firstly, in order to address the North American market, in 2002 Flow set up Bestobell Valves Inc within the group's existing wholly-owned distribution facility near Pittsburgh, US. Now there is $1m of Bestobell stock located in the Pittsburgh warehouse and sales have increased by a factor of four, as customers take advantage of the short reliable delivery lead times resulting from the investment in stock availability, and the local advice and support available from the Bestobell Valves Inc team.

Also over the last three years Bestobell have gradually built up a network of overseas supply partners, and embarked on an extensive manufacturing efficiency programme. This meant that during a period when the price of their two key raw materials, stainless steel and bronze, increased by a factor of 2 and 3 respectively, Bestobell managed to offset the impact of such increases, and hold its prices remarkably steady, so becoming increasingly competitive.

By carrying over 40 years' experience manufacturing cryogenic valves their innovative product range lies, at the heart of Bestobell's success,. In 2003 Bestobell launched a new range of gate valves, specifically designed to address the key concerns of cryogenic trailer builders and users - namely that once the valve body has been welded onto the trailer, under no circumstances do they ever want to have to cut it out again given the cost and disruption this causes. The Bestobell gate valve is the only gate valve that achieves this, thanks to its unique design which features complete removal of the wedge and body seat with the headworks. As a result this valve has become part of the standard specification of many of the world's major cryogenic trailer builders.

Finally, the LNG industry has become an important and growing market for cryogenic valves. Bestobell Valves supplies the downstream LNG market since the product requirements and the cryogenic trailer and storage tank OEM's are the same as for the traditional industrial gas market. However, Flow management recognised that the product and distribution demands of the upstream LNG supply chain (LNG liquefaction plants, LNG cargo carriers and LNG regasification terminals) were very different. Thus in September 2004 they set up Bestobell LNG, as a separate division from Bestobell Valves, in order to apply the 40 years of cryogenic valve experience to develop a product range for this industry, and the result has been rapid sales growth.

John Wall is happy to discuss their safety standards, saying, $quot;every single valve that leaves one of our factories is fully tested prior to despatch. On the rare occasions when there are product problems in the field, we take it very personally.$quot; He goes further, $quot;our first priority is always to get the customer's business operational again, and is then to carry out a thorough investigation to establish the root cause, and finally identify and implement the corrective action to our process to ensure that it cannot happen again.$quot;

Finally, when explaining what drives Bestobell, John Wall firmly places customers first, $quot;Across the group there are two issues about which we are absolutely passionate - delivery and quality. There is nothing more frustrating for a customer who is installing a new project, building new capital equipment or carrying out refurbishment to existing equipment, than late deliveries.$quot; The company works hard to avoid these problems. As Wall puts it, $quot;An enormous amount of work goes on every day to ensure that we only make realistic promises, and then that we keep them.$quot;

Bestobell at a glance
•Bought by Flow Group (comprising Shipham Valves, John Mills Valves and Conflow) in 2001.
•This deal brought together over two hundred years worth of experience in producing valve solutions.
Shipham Valves
Established in 1798 the company specialise in non-ferrous and high alloy valve solutions for handling sea water. They received the Queens Award for Export achievement in 2005.
John Mills Valves
Established in 1828 the company supplied non ferrous valves for the petrochemical and marine industries.
The world's leading supplier of water control and monitoring equipment for the underground coal mining industry.
Flow Group 2006 Sales of $45m.
•Bestobell Facilities in Sheffield, UK and Pittsburgh, USA.