A Zoom with Ashley…Part Two | Internal Sales & Customer Service Co-ordinator at Tomlinson Ltd
It’s no secret that UK foiling and embossing die-maker, Tomlinson Ltd, is extremely proud of its loyal and long-serving workforce; so much so that in each of its company newsletters, a different member of Tomlinson’s staff is placed in the spotlight so that their valued and important role can be uncovered and celebrated.
In the case of Ashley Wiltshire, Tomlinson’s Head of Quality Control and Despatch Department, this should indeed read roles, because in his twenty-four years of service at Tomlinson Ltd, Ashely has worked in multiple production departments gaining a deep knowledge of each process involved in high-quality die manufacturing.
But it’s not only behind the doors of Tomlinson’s busy factory that Ashley has excelled; ten years of his time at the company was spent working in a customer-facing role as an Internal Sales and Customer Service Co-ordinator, where he dealt with customer calls, emails and enquiries, raised internal orders for dies of all kinds, combinations and complexities, and became one of the friendly voices and faces of Tomlinson’s front office sales and customer service team. Hence, Ashley’s time at Tomlinson is featured not once but twice in the company’s popular newsletter! If you haven’t already done so, you can read part one of Ashley’s interview here.
“After spending ten years working in various departments on the shop-floor,” explains Ashley, “in 2008, a vacancy arose in the sales office and I was asked whether I’d be interested in the role. After considering it, I decided that it would be fantastic experience for me and because of my extensive experience in production, I felt I could put that knowledge and know-how to good use in the sales department.”.
How right he was! And so Ashley moved out of his multi-tasking, shop-floor position in QC into Tomlinson’s busy sales office where his work uniform became a crisp shirt and trousers and his linen-tester and depth-gauge were substituted for a ‘phone ringing off the hook and a PC!
“My years spent in various process departments meant that I was used to seeing and working from the production ‘dockets’ raised by the sales team,” recalls Ashley, “but when I moved into sales myself, I needed to learn how to create them using unfamiliar computer software. I also needed to get to know the array of codes for all of Tomlinson’s different products. It felt strange being the ‘new boy’ again but I soon got to grips with things and settled in and before too long I became an established part of the sales and customer services team.”.
As was evident when speaking with him about his role in QC, Ashley’s warm, friendly and helpful personality proved to be ideal traits in his new position. “I really enjoyed dealing with customers directly and finding out what they were aiming to achieve with one of our dies,” he says, “whether that be a straight-forward flat foiling die for a greeting card design or a specialist combination foiling and embossing die for use on label stock. Spending time talking with a customer to understand their exact requirements before raising an internal order to clearly and concisely convey all that information to our teams in production was really rewarding.”.
It’s without doubt that Tomlinson’s longstanding and new customers alike felt reassured by the attentive service they received from Ashley and his colleagues knowing that time had been taken to go through each element of their order in detail. Indeed, as any business that manufactures bespoke products to exacting specifications knows, the time invested at the initial stage can mean the difference between getting the job right first time and having to do it all over again. Therefore, a role in sales is key to the ongoing success and efficiency of the company as a whole.
“There’s also an educational side to working in customer service and sales which is exciting.” states Ashley, insightfully, “I loved being able to tell customers about what’s possible to achieve with our dies - things they hadn’t thought about - or perhaps didn’t already know about. Not all of the people I spoke with knew that they could add intricate textures to foiling dies - or embossing, or combination dies - which could help make a finished effect even more impressive than they’d first envisaged. It was great to hear them enthuse as much as I did about the range of possibilities.”.
This passion for the products Tomlinson produce has come over time and again as I’ve ‘talked shop’ with the company’s staff members to date. The niche area of die-making for the print finishing industry is innovative, creative and exciting and new ideas and innovations are being developed all the time meaning that there’s always more to discover.
When Ashley’s QC counterpart retired in 2018, Ashley’s extensive knowledge and skills in the field of die-making were called upon once again and he resumed his role as Head of Quality Control and Despatch where he remains today. Business Development Director, Ginger Singh Kauldhar, confides, “During his time in Tomlinson’s sales and customer service department, Ashley had become a key member of the team as well as a valued assistant to me. His move back into QC was sad for all of his colleagues in the front office. However, the good news is that Ashley now has one foot in sales in an advisory role and one foot in the factory, meaning that both areas now benefit from his all-round expertise.”.
It’s fair to say that Ashley’s professional journey at Tomlinson’s is possibly the most all-encompassing of the entire Tomlinson workforce; his versatility and adaptability clearly demonstrate the crucial importance of transferrable skills in the workplace. As you’ll find here, there really is no end to Ashley’s abilities and it’s no wonder he features twice in the company’s newsletter!
Finally, I ask Ashley if he would describe a stand-out memory of his time at Tomlinson’s. He replied that there were many, including lots of laughs and camaraderie between him and his co-workers, as well as some proud moments spent in the airport duty-free shop admiring the finished foiled effects that adorned various prestigious brand names’ products - quietly knowing he’d played a part in producing the dies that created them. “My wife always knew where to find me if we got separated at the airport!” he laughs. Always on duty!
Ashley then adds, “Back in 1999, there was a total solar eclipse and we all went outside into the car park armed with pieces of negative film to view it. I remember how the wildlife went quiet as it got darker - it was a really unforgettable experience that we all shared on what was, otherwise, a usual workday.”.
And what a way to close our Zoom; with a timely and meaningful reminder that companies are made up of people -
talented, dedicated and caring people - who not only share a workplace but who also come together to share memorable experiences while achieving personal success and finding reward in their profession.
© Tomlinson Ltd 2022