“Another of our dreams has come true, another step to becoming the customer’s brand of choice.” That’s how Radoslaw Koelner, group managing director, described the Rawlplug Academy as he welcomed more than 60 customers and guests to its formal opening.
He went on to say the Academy was one of the key components of an innovative development programme, with education and training one of the core pillars of the Rawlplug offer, alongside professional products and services.
The impressive 1,000m2 facility, located on the outskirts of Reading, UK, bears all the hallmarks, not just of a very substantial investment but also meticulous thought and planning.
As Rawlplug UK Managing Director Pietro Grandesso explained in his own welcome: “It is no coincidence we are opening our education and training centre in the year of Rawlplug’s one hundredth anniversary. Rawlplug has been an expert in fixings, fasteners and tools for 100 years and my team and I are genuinely proud we have been able to continue this remarkable history.”
To some laughter from guests who know him well, Pietro added: “You know I have seen a few fixings companies in my life. In my opinion this is the best academy and training centre any manufacturer has ever established outside of its head office.”
He defined the objectives of the Rawlplug Academy. “We created this centre to share knowledge and best practices, to solve our customers problems and the challenges the industry poses for them, to give them effective advice. We have built it to broaden the horizon and show new skills, to educate effectively, to teach both the theory and its practical applications, so that each person leaving here will be able to say, ‘I am an expert’.”
Invited guests were guided through the entire facility, starting with the seminar area, surrounded by examples of Rawlplug’s colour-coded Point of Sale system, in addition to the reception area where there was a visual timeline of Rawlplug’s 100 year heritage in fasteners, fixings and tools.
A second area is dedicated to demonstrating Rawlplug’s technical services. You might say nothing new in one sense, since Rawlplug first launched technical advisory services in 1930s. These, however, are graphically different in terms of the technology both behind the calculations and delivering the results.
Academy manager, Marcin Gorzala, explained how trainees begin with theoretical learning through an advanced e-learning system, structured into eight different product groups at three distinct technical levels, and supported by a massive library of animations and application videos. The system will also be available for self-learning, and incorporates a pre-training assessment of current knowledge plus post-module tests to confirm comprehension. All trainees will receive Rawlplug certifications of completion.
The rear three-quarters of the site are dedicated to hands-on training. As well as the obligatory reinforced concrete blocks for pull-out testing and demonstrations, this includes eight special vertical frames. These can accommodate a wide range of different substrates, set-up depending on the training requirement.
Between the theoretical and practical zones, however, is an educational stage developed from Rawlplug’s own training experience. Boards comprising product information including sizes and variations, also feature application images and physical samples of the products. The objective, Marcin explained during an exclusive facility preview for this Magazine, is to reinforce retention of the theoretical knowledge already delivered and provide an effective transition to hands-on training. Technology again plays a key reinforcement role during practical training, in the guise of an overhead screen running animation and videos of processes and applications.
The practical training area also includes a long run of merchandiser boards, so customers can experiment and learn how to develop optimal product layouts.
Finally, guests were introduced to the RawlTruck, celebrating the 100 year anniversary and destined to clock up some 30,000km around Europe this year.
Again, in one sense, nothing new: Rawlplug first put a travelling showroom on the road in 1933. However, this is a beast of quite another level of scale and technology; an extraordinary mobile facility reflecting the three Rawlplug commitments to professional products, services and education.
Having joined the magazine in 2012, Claire developed her knowledge of the industry through the numerous company visits, exhibitions and conferences she attended both in the UK and abroad.
Claire prides herself on keeping readers well informed and up to date with the latest industry news.