UK’s only trombone maker wants to hit the right note with china

Rath Trombones founder, Mick Rath, with Chamber International executive, Lydia Sykes, at the company’s workshop in Honley, West Yorkshire.

UK’s only trombone maker wants to hit the right note with china

Britain’s sole trombone manufacturer, Rath Trombones, has contracted overseas trade specialist, Chamber International, to help it export to China.

The Yorkshire based musical firm, whose instruments have been played by celebrated international musicians, including Count Basie Orchestra, the Berlin Opera and world-famous Black Dyke Mills band, makes 20 different models of the instrument.

Rath Trombones, based in Honley, West Yorks, which makes instruments for every genre of music, has appointed Chamber International’s China affairs associate, Matthew Grandage, to help gain a better understanding of Chinese business culture.

Founder, Mick Rath, and his wife, Nikki, employ nine skilled craftspeople to make the instruments, applying traditional skills which have almost died out in Britain.

They have already sold their instruments to 25 countries, have dealers in the USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Europe and export more than 60% of total sales.

Mick Rath, who started playing the tuba when he was aged 11, said: “The trombone market is fairly small and we need to export to keep growing. We cannot rely on the UK alone to sustain business and exporting enables us to take advantage of fluctuating economies and exchange rates.

“We’ve been trying to get into China, a large and increasingly wealthy market with good arts funding, for some time.  

“However, a lack of understanding of Chinese business culture, which is very different to ours, is holding us back.

“Matthew Grandage is helping me understand this and, if it enables us to sell there, it can trigger a further 25% sales growth. We could end up exporting 75% of our products.”

Rath Trombones was founded in 1992 and began developing prototypes before creating its first professional standard instrument by 1996.

The company started exporting in 1997 and, since then, instruments have also been bought by The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, The Royal Military School of Music, The Scots Guards, Her Majesty's Royal Marines Band Service, the US and Norwegian Armed forces, London Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony orchestra, Welsh National Opera and Grimethorpe Colliery Band.

Matthew Grandage said: “Visiting Rath Trombones’ factory is a privilege – you know you're meeting top craftsmen in their field.  Professional musicians will recognise and value that quality as it transcends international boundaries.

“But quality and craftsmanship don't make export success automatic.  Mick understands that every country has its own culture when it comes to purchasing, and China is no exception. 

“Understanding this is often the difference between success and disappointment in overseas markets. That's why Mick sought Chamber International's advice, and we are proud to a part of Rath Trombones’ exciting export journey.”

Chamber International helps hundreds of new and experienced exporters with a wide range of specialist services to make exporting easier and more cost effective.

It is the UK’s sole supplier of hand-held, cloud-based business management tool, ‘edge’, which enables companies to access client records, control stock, issue quotations, create trade documents and raise invoices to fulfill export orders from anywhere in the world by using a smart phone or any web-linked device.