30 years of CHH CoNeX: How we’ve responded to industry change
If you think a lot can happen in just four months, imagine how much can happen in 30 years! While a lot of businesses, including CHH CoNeX, have been busy adjusting to a new normal way of working throughout the past few months, we’ve also been celebrating a major milestone for the business. For this is the year that CHH CoNeX turned 30 and amidst the hand sanitising, social distancing and mask-wearing of today, it would be remiss not to look back on the past three decades with pride and a sense of achievement.
The company was founded on September 7, 1990. Tim Hughes, Managing Director and Alan Coley, Technical Director are two of the original founders and owners of the Company. Back then the business was in a very different place to where it is now, and considerably smaller as a true start-up. And while we have never had to face a challenge as big as the pandemic we are all fighting today, the past three decades have not been without their triumphs as well as the struggles.
From eight to sixty
Over the last three decades, we’ve steadily grown from strength-to-strength, from a small start-up employing eight people, to a company with a workforce of sixty.
While most sectors will have evolved to some degree over the past 30 years, very few will have changed as much as the fast-paced world of telecommunications.
We can say this because we’ve been living and breathing it every single day for the last three decades and we know this because we’ve played an instrumental part in delivering many of the significant developments that have taken place to date (more on this below).
While the critical nature of telecoms may have only just become apparent as the nation works from home, it’s not a sector that’s simply sprung up overnight in response to the current crisis. The industry dates back to the 1800s and has been evolving year-on-year.
Without it, life would be incredibly different and incredibly challenging.
In many ways, the growth of telecoms coincides with that of the internet and the digital revolution. Like most industries, it was a series of innovations, partnerships and global developments that were responsible for spearheading the growth of the digital age, with teams of innovators collaborating separately over time to build what has become one of the world’s critical business sectors.
Let’s take a look back at our last 30 years and some of the major milestones that have happened in direct response to wider innovations, partnerships and global developments:
Milestone 1: Cable assemblies for weighing scales/airport baggage weighers
The business was built around a PLC listed customer who sourced all of their cable assemblies from a supplier that went into administration. The supplier’s demise saw the birth of Coley Hughes and Humphries and our day one flexibility meant that not a single day of customer production was lost. Orders that were placed in the morning were delivered in the afternoon. We had hit the ground running.
Milestone 2: Gaming machine cable sets
Our first significant “home grown” customer was a gaming machine company for whom we built complete sets of cables for a range of gaming machines. We introduced new practices and processes to manage the new demands, including dedicated customer teams along with night shift working at particularly busy times. We were constantly expanding our floor space to deal with the increase in turnover.
It was also the year when we transferred the trade of Coley Hughes and Humphries across to CHH Electronics Limited.
Milestone 3: Network manufacturing (cable assemblies/electro mechanical sub assembly)
A Global technology company, with a UK operation selling cable and connectors decided to add value to their offering by creating a network manufacturing capability, outsourcing the assembly work to five SMEs based around the country.
CHH was chosen to be one of the SMEs, and through a combination of price, quality and flexibility, we quickly went on to win 90+% and then the whole of the available business to becomethe defacto supplier of choice .
Milestone 4: Hospital patient entertainment units (assembly/logistics/warranty management)
A new company providing in hospital patient entertainment units (e.g. TVs, telephones and internet connection) contacted us in 2003.
We initially provided a single cable assembly, which ultimately progressed to a project managing the complete unit build and co-ordinating in-hospital upgrades and maintenance. This widened our skill base and drove us to think more as a solutions provider.
Milestone 5: National Broadband project (large cable assemblies/electro mechanical sub assembly)
There was a big push to upgrade the existing copper network, and as a sub-contractor to a major tier 1 supplier, we manufactured and delivered hundreds of thousands of copper cable assemblies each to an exacting standard, all of which performed (and still are performing) faultlessly. At the time, it was calculated that as many as 70% of all national phone calls would, at some point, have been routed through a CHH cable assembly.
Milestone 6: First cabinet integration project (26,000 street cabinets)
This was our first venture into cabinet integration, which began when one of our existing customers asked if we could integrate their cabinets on our premises.
We went through the various required approvals, set up a production track and broke the assembly down into easy-to-learn slots. At the peak, one fully integrated cabinet was being produced every seven minutes, and in total, 26,000 were created and deployed. Through lean processes and basic waste elimination, we reduced the standard build time from seven to just under three hours.
Milestone 7: First significant Managed Services contract
We had provided a low level of managed services kitting for an existing customer for a number of years.
The logistics company within this arrangement won a large contract with a leading network operator who approached us to see if we could scale up our Managed Services offering, which we were happy to do. This continues to be a contract servicing hundreds of engineers with thousands of different items of tooling, PPE and consumable materials.
Milestone 8: Smart meter cabinet and data rack integration project
Our cabinet partner at the time was approached by a National broadcast company, which was looking for a partner to provide network end integrated cabinets for the Government’s national smart meter installation programme.
Following some discussion, our cabinet partner decided CHH was best placed to take the project management lead, and over the next three years, cabinets and data racks were integrated, shipped and deployed across the North of England and Scotland.
Milestone 9: First Panel Wiring project for medical machinery
We had an existing cable assembly customer, who specialised in manufacturing low temperature automated storage equipment.
We became aware of a panel wiring opportunity when the existing supplier was failing to deliver. Whilst it wasn’t a promoted CHH competency, most of the skills and disciplines were the same as with cable assembly and integration. We have since completed a number of panel assemblies and actively promote panel wiring as one of our specialisms.
Milestone 10: National Smart Meter roll out
Once the Smart Meter network build had been completed, the installation of smart meters into homes commenced. Through the logistics lead in materials deployment (one of our existing customers), we secured a number of contracts to service several thousand engineers with several million components, tooling and personal protection equipment.
We’ve come a long way over the last 30 years
Not only have we matched every industry development that’s happened around us, we’ve played an integral part in helping make the most pivotal changes happen, like those listed above.
As our technologies and capabilities continue to grow, we’re looking forward to influencing and continuing to lead the way with many more advances for the next 30 years and more.
But first, we continue to adapt our business once again as we prepare to continue our growth in these strange new times. Thirty years ago, we never dreamt that we would find ourselves in a position where much of the economy had been closed down for months with a real risk to human health shadowing over us. We were fortunate in that we could still play a role delivering critical services during this time and we are now going through the process of ramping up our activity once again, with 30 years’ worth of experience helping us steer the future direction of the business.
We’d like to thank all of our customers, employees and supply chain partners for helping us through the past thirty years. We look forward to working with you throughout the next three decades too!
For more details about our services, check out this page - https://chhconex.com/what-we-do/