The challenge

On top of reliability and a good product range, IBTC Portsmouth requires support in the way of information resources and presentations to the students. When choosing a supplier, IBTC place a great deal of importance on finding a company who is prepared to visit the college to gain a greater understanding of their needs.

Customer profile

IBTC are based in the heart of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, ideally placed to teach the techniques of traditional wooden boatbuilding. Whether a school leaver or career changer; reskilling or on an adult gap year, students work from day one with their tools and on real projects. Courses range from one week short courses such as oar building and stool making, to a 12 week joinery course or a full 47 week boatbuilding course.

Students vary enormously in ability and experience and so IBTC teach the individual. Providing the student is willing to work hard and loves wood, they will learn new skills while creating things of beauty, worth and purpose.

The solution

Dedicated account support

Axminster provides dedicated account support for businesses and education customers, support which meets IBTC’s requirements for a supplier who is proactive.

Nick Barnett, boathouse manager at IBTC Portsmouth, talks about the importance of a supportive supplier -

We like to deal with businesses who show interest in our unique courses and who are prepared to invest into the college in terms of support, such as presentations to our students.

To understand the customer’s needs and processes, Axminster make regular visits to the premises. On a visit to IBTC the Axminster Technical Consultant was able to make recommendations for upgrades to the machine shop. Axminster worked together with the college to provide the necessary information and quotations for approval. This process is particularly useful to educational establishments who often need to provide evidence to gain approval for purchases. Furthermore, Axminster can assist with the planning of workshops and advise on compliance to the latest British standards.

On occasion, IBTC require assistance with product information. Recently the college identified a need for a machine shop manual which called for machine anatomy information. In conjunction with the Technical Consultant based out of the road, Axminster have a team stationed in Devon whose role is to work with business and education customers. The staff and students benefited from the information in the manuals, compiled by the internal team together with the Technical Consultant.


For greater peace of mind, Axminster offer an installation and commissioning service. IBTC took full advantage of the service in the fit out of their machine shop. A team of experienced engineers positioned, installed and tested the machines ensuring they were ready to use from day one.

Star performers

Product range and reliability is important to a busy college, firm favourites at IBTC include:

  • Tormek T8 - a versatile, reliable and repeatable sharpening system. Perfect for IBTC who use lots of hand tools, achieving great results quickly and easily.
  • UB3300-VECK Extractor - suitable for large industrial workshops, similar to the IBTC machine shop. These extractors can handle most types of wood dust.
  • TSCE 12-R Saw Bench - compact in size but very robust construction. Ideal for cutting boards and panels used for boat building.
  • TB-16 Engineer Series Bench Pillar Drill - heavily built and manufactured to exceptionally accurate tolerances.


Suppliers to IBTC Portsmouth need to be proactive industry leaders. Equal to reliability and product range the college require support including presentations to students, industry links, information resources and advice. Axminster have given their own presentations, supported the annual summer fair and also arranged workshops for students with tool specialists such as Lie Nielsen.

IBTC’s designated Axminster Technical Consultant visits the college on a regular basis and works together with the office based team to offer maximum support. The team are always on hand for compliance advice as well as ensuring orders are processed quickly and accurately.

IBTC selected Axminster’s installation service when fitting out their new machine shop so they knew their machines were checked and installed by experienced engineers. IBTC students learn on the tools and machinery from day one, so it is vital for the college that any new machine is ready to use straight away.

When asked about the support offered by Axminster, Nick Barnett said -

Axminster have been instrumental in the support they have provided IBTC Portsmouth. They are clearly seen as industry leaders and their sales team have been most supportive of the college.

Get in touch

To arrange a visit with your regional Technical Consultant phone 0800 371822, email or complete this form. Find out more about our Business Services team at