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Heavy machinery turns to the online world

Joe Litter is the MD of machinery supplier Oakleaf Forestry. Here he explains why the firm applied for InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge support.

From humble beginnings Co. Armagh’s Oakleaf Forestry has helped shape the evolution of the forestry industry across the UK and Ireland. It prides itself in being ahead of the curve and has been a driving force behind the automation of firewood and production and low-impact forestry.

Joe explains “You have to be able to anticipate the needs of the customer and also spot trends. With Covid-19, things we would normally be doing in terms of demonstrations and visiting people, planning events and things, that all had to stop.”

The business decided to apply for InterTradeIreland’s E-Merge support. The funding of up to £2500 helps firms develop their online sales and e-commerce solutions.

Alison Currie, Operations Manager with InterTradeIreland says “E-Merge can make a real difference to firms that want to enhance their digital presence. We’ve had many firms in Ireland and Northern Ireland that have won new business as a result of its support.”

Joe agrees that E-Merge can open doors, “It was obvious to me that improving our online offering would be the way to go. Our website has been completely revamped. We’ve had more leads and enquiries as a result. For example we’ve changed how the products are presented, making it easier for people to navigate by application rather than brand.”

Joe is particular about the products he will supply, going to great lengths to ensure any new additions fit in with the carefully curated range he has built up over the years. Any potential new offering will be thoroughly tested prior to deciding on whether to stock it or not.

“Thorough doesn’t begin to describe my way of going about things,” he says. “We do receive enquiries daily from different manufacturers all over the world asking if we’d like to represent them. It has to be a good fit for us. If I think a machine is going to work, we’ll bring it back to test it in Ireland or Scotland.”

“We have to be satisfied that it’s a good machine and represents good value for the customer. If a machine causes them problems, it’s going to cause me problems. We want to make sure customers are getting something that’s going to do the work for them.”

He concludes “It’s the same with working with any external partner. It has to be good fit for us too. I’d recommend InterTradeIreland because they’re responsive and they make decisions quickly. Plus it doesn’t take a lot of time to apply for the E-Merge programme. It can make a real difference to how your business performs on-line, which is what everyone needs to be thinking about these days.”

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