How chat about an 89p coffee machine part led to thousands of pounds of business for Bolton firm

IF there is such a thing as a business parable then the co-owners of a Bolton pneumatics company with a turnover of £500,000 have written it.

They describe how a chat with a customer over a tiny purchase led to a huge boost for their business.

The anecdote, told by 52-year-old Veronica Leather, sums up the philosophy of Context Pneumatic Supplies Ltd, which she says prides itself on its family values and friendly service.

She explained: “A gentleman came into the shop just before we closed a few months ago, he was a connoisseur of coffee.

“He needed a part for his coffee-making machine, which cost him 89p. We started chatting about what he was doing and he didn’t leave until 8pm.

“It was a lot of time to spend with someone who had spent so little, but we later found out he had recommended us to other coffee connoisseurs on an online forum.

“Subsequently, we have had thousands of pounds worth of orders because of his recommendation.

“It just shows that if you spend time with people and give them good service, you never know where it could lead.”

Context Pneumatic Supplies Ltd is run by Mrs Leather and her husband, Bob, and fellow director Peter Bullough, and was launched five years ago.

They initially set up the firm from the Leathers’ Crompton Way home, but when it got to the point at which parts for pneumatic appliances were filling the house from loft to ground floor, they relocated to their current base in Thicketford Road.

Context is one of only two companies in Bolton supplying pneumatic parts.

The UK pneumatic market alone is worth £150 million, and there are healthy exporting opportunities, with the Context shipping manager Patricia Loughran regularly sending out parts to far flung corners of the globe like Vietnam, Australia and the USA.

Mr Leather and Mr Bullough — an authority on pneumatics — were former colleagues at an engineering company.

After Mr Bullough was made redundant, Mr Leather decided to harness the 72-year-old’s expertise to set up Context.

“Peter is an amazing pneumatics engineer,” said Mr Leather, aged 56.

“He’s probably one of the best in the UK. We’re very lucky to have him as part of the business.”

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