Paul, as commercial director, you’ve probably had a busy few years, recently?
Yes, it’s certainly been busy! The acquisition by maxon in late 2018 has been great for Parvalux; it’s helped us open new markets and take the Parvalux brand global. Moreover, our business processes are becoming much more streamlined and we’re on a pretty steep new product development trajectory, which is all very exciting. We were already pretty busy in the run-up to maxon taking over, but this has been a step change for us.
What has changed since Parvalux became part of the maxon group?
One of the more visible changes is that we are undertaking a lot more marketing activity, which hadn’t really been a priority before maxon’s ownership. We certainly did do some marketing but not a huge amount, as most of our business was repeat and new business was won by reputation, recommendation and word of mouth. As we seek to promote Parvalux to a wider, global audience, we start to encounter well-funded and capable competitors who have already got a good head start, particularly online. This is why we’ve invested significantly in a brand-new website with an online shop. There’s now a superb online product configurator. Customers can select a motor, add a gearbox and a range of accessories, such as brakes and encoders. As each component is added, the on-screen graphic changes to show the addition and the graphic can then be manipulated in a 360-degree fly-around. Engineers get a rapid understanding of how our units will fit in the space they have available. At the same time, we’re providing better support to our customers by sharing a lot more performance data. We’ve revisited each of our products and published a new set of 2D datasheets that includes product dimensions and performance data in metric and imperial sizes. We are also making 3D CAD files available directly from the website to make the engineer’s design process that much quicker. I’m not aware of any other geared motor manufacturer that offers the sort of functionality and choice we’re now able to offer through parvalux.com.
It sounds like a lot of effort has been put into differentiating Parvalux from other manufacturers?
Parvalux operates solely in the fractional horsepower sector and we’ve always designed and built superb motors and gearboxes, but we haven’t been that good at shouting about our successes or explaining the benefits of our products. maxon actively encourages us to do more and to shout louder.
In terms of markets and products, is there a risk that maxon and Parvalux get in each other’s way?
There are surprisingly very few overlapping products in our respective motor ranges and that was perhaps one of the things that interested maxon about Parvalux in the first place. We have a history steeped in developing powerful, small to mid-sized motors and right-angle gearboxes that offer high reliability, making them ideal for applications like golf buggies, industrial automation systems, stairlifts etc. maxon’s drive systems are smaller, more precise units that are very well suited to medical and scientific applications, for example. This is very interesting for us, because our respective salespeople can cross-pollenate ideas and introduce each other’s products to existing customers, where trust and respect are already established.
Can Parvalux and maxon products be mixed and matched?
Actually, yes and we’re making great headway down a joint development path. We’ve recently completed an interesting project to integrate Parvalux gearheads with maxon drives, which offers the potential to provide benefits across each of our respective customer bases. Parvalux is specifying maxon controllers for our DC drives and we are having conversations about developing products that can be used by both brands. Parvalux is developing a brand new range of industrial BLDC motors which will be compatible with a new maxon-developed controller range. Working together has actually turned out to be a productive process because we have the same ambitions and share a similar appetite for success.
What’s it been like in general working with a new team of colleagues?
Daily collaboration with our colleagues throughout maxon is second nature now. At no point has this ever felt like an ‘us and them’ situation but rather, we’re treated like valued colleagues and friends and it’s been this way since the first day. maxon expects every employee to contribute to the overall success of the business and the company has created an environment that supports continuous improvement and learning. We’re encouraged to experiment and think longer-term and as a result we’re able to plan more effectively, which is important as we start to grow more quickly and enter new markets.
What does the future look like for Parvalux over the next few years?
We’re focused on growing the business and establishing ourselves in several emerging markets we’ve identified both directly and, through the maxon subsidiaries, globally. To support this, we’re placing emphasis on new product development. As a natural component of this, we’re always exploring how we can harness technical innovation. We have some very exciting product developments that are keeping our engineering development teams busy, some of which I can’t talk about yet, but I can say that they centre on new products that will take the Parvalux AC and DC motor ranges to a new level of capability.
Text: Dave Hitchins
Paul Bascombe has worked at Parvalux since 2011. He started as a senior design engineer and now leads the company’s Sales & Commercial function and a team of 13 from Parvalux headquarters in Bournemouth.
In the late 1940s, the world was a very different place; a world war had decimated the manufacturing industry across Europe. For years, ‘make do and mend’ had been the norm; repairing something was considered a better option than throwing it away. So in 1947, Leslie Clark started a business for rewinding motors. He initially operated from a small building near London and he called his business ‘Parvalux’, derived from the Latin words ‘Parva’, meaning ‘new’ and ‘lux’, meaning ‘light’. In 1957, Parvalux relocated to Bournemouth. With plenty of space to expand and a growing order book, the company developed from simply rewinding and refurbishing motors, to designing and manufacturing geared motor units for industrial applications. Since those early days, Parvalux has grown to become the UK’s largest manufacturer of fractional horsepower AC and DC motors and gearboxes. The company’s products are popular in patient care, industrial automation, leisure and e-mobility applications, where power, smooth operation and reliability are all prerequisites. To date, Parvalux has built and shipped over 20 million units, to over 80 countries worldwide, where they power train and elevator doors, enable solar panels to track the sun, and power the windscreen wipers on ocean-going ships.