HUDSON UK – The Inside Track

How do you command customer loyalty?

In a world where consumers are spending more yet often feel like they’re gaining less, the role of the supplier must be to imagine creative methods of standing out in a crowded market. Apply this to the rowing community – and the search for the perfect shell to carry your crew to victory – and you can understand how important it is to trust in your boat-builder.

Having established themselves as one of the world’s leading boat manufacturers, HUDSON are now moving into the UK market at a pace. The Canadian-based company bring with them technical innovation, creative engineering and, crucially, razor sharp attention to detail. Their new service centre in Reading, located in the heart of the Thames Valley, is designed to allow the team to respond quickly and effectively to the needs of a growing customer base.

“2006 was probably the first time we really put any effort into showing our products in the UK,” explains Craig McAllister, Commercial Manager for HUDSON. “2011 was also significant as I would say that was the birth of the HUDSON that people know in the UK today.”

It’s been a rapid and well-charted expansion, one which has received the support of some of the UK’s most venerable names. “Eton College were one of the early adopters in the UK and remain one of our largest customers to this day,” says Craig. “When they won the Treble in 2009 in a Hudson 8+, it did cause other programs to take notice.”

Naturally then, it was only logical for the UK team to focus their efforts on building and sustaining relationships with the junior rowing community. “That demographic have been absolutely paramount to our success,” says Craig. “The Eton example was a great opportunity for us to work out the best way to maintain a positive, mutually beneficial relationship with one of the UK’s largest rowing schools. They’ve obviously got some pretty demanding standards and we’ve always ensured we meet them, which has helped us to grow our customer base across the country. When they stuck with us, it was a sign that we were doing something right – clearly they believe in the product but the real difference is in the level of support we offer.”

Now well known for producing quality equipment, the team in Reading are focusing their efforts on providing a world-class standard of service to new and existing customers. “To begin with, pretty much all of our customers find the product to be excellent,” explains Ruud Pepping, Business Manager for HUDSON in UK. “What people seem to appreciate most though is our level of response. We can ship our parts to anywhere in 24 hours and if there is a problem we immediately try to respond and sort it out. That level of service and care is an intrinsic part of our philosophy on how to represent the HUDSON brand.”

The HUDSON team aim to have repairs completed in a matter of days, not weeks, so that rowers are not inhibited from competing through the busy regatta season. Beyond that, athletes who purchase HUDSON shells are given consistent and detailed support from Ruud and his team – a customer service technique that allies itself well with the modern world. “Our presence in the UK has changed dramatically over the past few years,” says Ruud. “Now, we’re a respected global brand providing local support and service with an increasing number of programs experiencing what we can offer. Our product is evolving through continual technical innovation and our level of additional support so beyond the sale and delivery of a boat the after sales service has to continue to improve at the same rate”.

On the Hudson website, the mantra is clear – Athlete Focused, Technology Driven. There is no questioning the fact that HUDSON shells are amongst the finest available on the market, but with that should come exceptional customer care – a concept that is clearly at the very heart of the brand.