An interview with… Mark Revak 04 June 2024

Mark Revak director of sales and purchasing, Harrison & Clough Ltd

Mark Revak has been working at Harrison & Clough – a leading UK distributor of quality fasteners and fixings, as well as related accessories and tools – for nearly 37 years. Here we talk to him about his career within the fastener industry and the steps Harrison & Clough has taken to ensure it continues to meet the needs of its customers.

Tell us about your career and the roles you have held at Harrison & Clough since joining the business.

“I joined Harrison & Clough (H&C) in October 1987 and initially started on the late shift picking in the warehouse. I then had multiple other warehouse roles, such as FLT, loading, checking, as well as a floor planning and process development. The latter roles reflected my eye for improvement in efficiencies and they were all a real learning curve in terms of product, systems and processes. 

The journey through the warehouse environment was very beneficial, as I was able to understand all the roles and gather
first-hand knowledge of how things truly worked. I then moved from the warehouse into the commercial team, initially in sales processing, and then went onto account management – forming the original key accounts sales team. As with the warehouse systems, the processes within the commercial side were very manual and I was a part of the team that brought automation to processes and pricing. 

For instance, back in the early 1990s we had to write out every order in its entirety, which could mean writing every detail for a 200 line order. I therefore suggested that instead of all the details, why didn’t we just write the start of the part code, as that was the unique identifier. This proved to be a big success and helped us streamline the entire process, so that we could take even more calls. 

When I made the move into the key accounts team, the idea was to build stronger relationships with customers – so that we could better understand their needs and help us further build the business. In essence, our aim was to provide the customer with whatever they asked for when it came to a product. We would do everything for the customer and having the key accounts team as a single point of contact was hugely popular, and still is today.

I then moved into business support and worked closely with the commercial, operational and technical support teams to implement a programme of continuous improvement, commercial pricing and data support – essentially looking to offer our customers support and ease of trading. As part of this, in 2015, I migrated to the operational side of the business – supporting the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and automated warehouse programme. The aim behind the WMS was to make the warehouse processes as efficient as possible and to make sure as few picks were being made to fulfil each order. It also helped us maximise our warehouse space and how we were using it. We went from operators picking 20 – 30 items an hour via a trolley, to picking more than 100 items an hour through shelving.

Today, I am back in the commercial environment and working on different projects. Whilst I have been at the company all this time, by moving around the different departments it feels like I’ve had a different job every few years, which has helped keep things fresh and let me see how different parts of the business work. 

During the journey I have been incredibly fortunate to work with and be supported by some of the industry’s finest. Having been with H&C for so long, it is nice to be able to see all of the hard work paying off, especially when it leads to success for the business.”

What would you say are the major differences in the fastener sector from when you first started? 

“Clearly product origin has changed hugely over the period, with it moving from the UK, to Europe, to the Far East. Back in 1987, when I first started, the majority of the product was sourced in the UK and whilst you kept a reasonable stock, the waiting time for additional products was never more than a few weeks. Delivering to the customers was also a lot easier, we had distribution hubs throughout the UK and we had nationwide delivery via our notorious ‘green vans’. 

However, when the price within the UK became too expensive the production soon moved to other parts of Europe and then to the Far East, so that today the majority of products are now sourced directly from Asia. Whilst this has led to a reduction in product price, the delivery times have increased significantly to a point where you can be waiting up to 12 months for an order to arrive – creating a whole new challenge for companies. 

Communication methods are also massively different, back when I started postal orders, telex and telephone were a fundamental part of the business. Nowadays it is emails, EDI, and to a certain extent still telephone, that are the key contact points with customers. In fact, 75% of our business is conducted by email, which is totally different to how it used to be. However, whilst emails have become more prominent, we still believe that having a conversation with the customer and understanding their requirements is crucial – as that is how you grow and develop relationships. That is why we encourage all our sales team to follow up any email with a phone call, so they can make sure we are meeting customers’ needs.

Regarding other changes within the market, whilst the products have remained remarkably consistent, the major changes have been in the grades of material and plated finishes requested. Conformance, legislation and reporting are also areas that have rightly moved up the agenda and continue to change at a rate of knots. Unfortunately, our market seems to be at the end of the informational loop and as such has to react in relatively short time periods to these updates. 

A big shift within the market is that product knowledge has essentially moved to be the responsibility of the wholesaler. Many customers have moved to supply a very wide range of products – meaning that a lot of specialisms have been lost. As a wholesaler you need to be able to offer a lot of services and support when it comes to the products, in order to be able to provide the right solutions to meet each individual customer’s needs. At H&C we can offer a wide range of products that is continuously expanding. Being part of the Dormole Group also means we have access to a wide range of products from other members of the Group, including ForgeFix and Toolbank. In the fullness of time this will enable H&C to have one of the largest ranges available within the market.”

What investments has Harrison & Clough made in recent years? Why did it decide to make these investments? 

“Investment has always been a key area and at H&C our business models, practices, and support mechanisms, have moved forward massively thanks to us continuously investing in the business and the industry.  

I think the levels of investment in product, customer support, systems, paperwork, and quality of products, can sometimes be overlooked in a marketplace that seems to delight in commoditising safety critical products. However, these investments have been necessary as we are finding that customers are increasingly requesting support on topics – such as CBAM regulations, Russian steel legislation, etc – and as a business this is a massive opportunity because if you can understand the legislation and explain it to the customer, in a simple format, then it gives you an advantage within the market.

As a business we recognise that covering legislation and data is going to be key to the business, now and in the future. Thanks to the development and investment within our current division operating system, we have been able to reduce the number of desks you need to sell the products and instead we have moved these people over to data support and helping customers with these types of topics. This means that without increasing the cost base we have been able to ensure we are still providing a first-class service to our customers. 

Other areas that we have also been investing include a new ERP system and a 135,00 square foot (12,500m2) warehousing and distribution facility, which will encompass state of art automation and offer many benefits to our customer base. To add to this, throughout 2024 and 2025 we will also be introducing new products across 20 product groups – amounting to in excess of 2,500 individual SKUs. These investments are designed to enable us to offer more products to more customers and deliver them a lot quicker.”

What will Harrison & Clough’s strategy be for the remainder of 2024 and beyond?

“Our strategy is simple, to offer the widest range of products, combined with industry leading levels of service and support, in addition to a customer facing team that is fully emersed in the customer experience.  

At H&C we supply a wide range of fasteners and fixings, which are complimented with industrial consumables and associated hand tools. As a part of the Dormole Group, we also have access to resources and support that compliment and drives continuous customer support initiatives.

In essence, we look to offer a tailored supply solution for any type of customer, including products and every element of support – whether it be goods supplied at optimum receipt intervals, data, digital support, fixed price agreements, customer-friendly paperwork, field support or training. We believe that opportunities are wrapped up in the challenges associated within these areas, which is why we are constantly working on providing multiple solutions – so every customer can access the products and support they need.”




Content Director

Will Lowry Content Director t: +44 (0) 1727 743 888


Will joined Fastener + Fixing Magazine in 2007 and over the last 15 years has experienced every facet of the fastener sector - interviewing key figures within the industry and visiting leading companies and exhibitions around the globe.

Will manages the content strategy across all platforms and is the guardian for the high editorial standards that the Magazine is renowned.