Branching Out

Keith Damen, Managing Director - CDG Systems. Industry economics and the influence of a new parent have seen the UK's CDG Systems diversify into cargo equipment service and maintenance, reports Richard Rowe January 2004 Better known...


Keith Damen

Industry economics and the influence of a new parent have seen the UK's CDG Systems diversify into cargo equipment service and maintenance, reports Richard Rowe


Better known as a niche supplier of bespoke cargo handling solutions, UK manufacturer CDG Systems exhibited some fancy footwork earlier this year when it stepped neatly, and perhaps unexpectedly, into the highly competitive world of equipment service and maintenance.

While CDG suggests the move was very much a natural progression given its experience in the design and production of cargo handling systems, such diversification has more to do with prevailing industry economics and the desires of a new parent, the Highland Group.

Based in Manchester in the northwest of England, the Highland Group purchased CDG from previous owner Logan Fabricom in February 2003. CDG's new owner has built its business essentially around facilities management in aviation and other industries.

One pure aviation division, Highland Airline Services, provides fleet maintenance for customers such as British Airways (BA) and Lufthansa at major UK airports, including the supply of a full range of GSE and ramp handling equipment. Other divisions within the Group supply and service high-level access vehicles, as well as offering building maintenance programmes and health and safety related training.

Highland's acquisition of CDG was very much a strategic decision. It was based largely on a desire to step closer to the big London airports in the south of England and to diversify the Group's service scope into the fixed cargo systems side of aviation ground support. The acquisition is the first step in Highland's wider plan to establish itself as a genuine full service ground support provider.

Keith Damen, Managing Director, CDG Systems, believes the 'fit' between the two will result in a win-win situation for both parties. "We offer Highland the opportunity to widen its airline services to cargo as well as ramp handling equipment, while CDG benefits from Highland's experience in facilities management and customer support," he says.

Similarly, Highland's health and safety and equipment inspections experience is equally transferable in terms of offering training services to cargo handling operational staff, adds Damen.

Now with an extra string to its bow, CDG is focussing on offering planned and preventative maintenance rather than a more reactive 'call-out' service. "We recognise that our customers need to keep their systems rolling," explains Damen. "We hope to prevent problems before they arise rather than wait for them to happen."

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