Avonstar of Digbeth: metal manufacturing

October 14, 2017

Make Works, an open resource where you can discover skilled manufacturers, tools and materials to make work with in your area, lists Digbeth’s  Avonstar – a ‘light’ engineering firm which has been providing quality service to its customers for over 20 years.

Avonstar’s skilled 30 employees can handle all types of metal construction and parts of construction and undertake work in all types of metal – including steel, aluminium and stainless steel.It offers powder coating, which contains no solvents and releases little or no chemical pollution into the atmosphere, unlike liquid coatings.

They work with a wide range of clients based in Digbeth, including arts organisations and individual creative practitioners.

The Avonstar website appears to be ‘under construction’ but the company has developed another remarkable site for an online trading store.

Avonstar Classics supplies a wide range of useful metal goods to customers in many sectors including city councils, education departments and the automotive industry, supplying

  • clinics and hospitals
  • kitchen departments
  • car accessories
  • campervan/caravans
  • gardening stores
  • sports departments (for rugby, netball, fishing and football)

 

To see their full range go to Avonstar Classics.

 

 

 

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Berck of West Bromwich: worker-management co-operation, training and investment

September 26, 2017

Berck Ltd, a family-run company in West Bromwich, founded in 1947, took difficult decisions to weather the downturn following the 2008 economic crisis.

To reduce costs, the company chairman Brian Yates and the management team decided to cut 11 jobs in the firm, which employed 90 people (above). They also asked the remaining employees to cut working hours and they agreed to do this in order to help the company through the crisis. After applying for a bank loan secured against the factory buildings, there was still a question about Berck’s ability to pay its monthly instalments on the loan and the directors were asked to take a salary break of two years, and put in some of their own money.

These measures were successful and in 2015, Berck received a Made in the Midlands’ Manufacturing Achievement Award

Berck produces a wide range of precision components, including cabling and routing, brackets batteries, terminal contacts, in-tank fuel cell sensors, air bag technology, switching for dashboard systems, which are used in the majority of car manufacturing plants in the UK and overseas. Products are exported to China, Mexico, India, Brazil, Egypt, the United States, Dominican Republic and most countries in Europe. components. Berck also serves over twenty other sectors, including domestic appliances, home computers, alternative medicines, i.t networking and solar heating

Like many successful West Midlands companies covered on this website, they invest in training and new machinery.

Above: Joe Hickman, toolroom apprentice – more news of apprentices on their Facebook page.

Last year, Berck invested in a Nikon Metrology iNEXIV VMA-4540 CNC video measuring machine (below) to replace Mitutoyo Quick Vision Ace CNC optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM) and a Kemco manual touch-probe CMM to inspect sheet metal parts and tools. See the Nikon pdf.

The latest widely reported news is that in July this year, Berck acquired Walsall’s Fourjay, specialists in deep drawing. The staff from Fourjay will now move across to West Bromwich to join Berck’s 70-strong workforce. Darren Yates, managing director at Berck, welcomed the addition of people with a variety of new skills to their skilled workforce.

Berck will now be supplying the MoD with vital fuses for Typhoon Eurofighter and F-16 combat jets. May they be used only for defence.  

 

 

 

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Metro and Redwood: new banks offering loans and savings accounts for small and medium sized companies

September 7, 2017

Metro Bank started operations in 2010. Its first branch in the West Midlands will be the flagship operation for the region.

Business Desk adds that Metro Bank is the UK’s first new retail bank in more than 100 years, providing both retail and commercial banking services. The four floor Birmingham operation will also be slightly larger than its other outlets, which typically create around 25 jobs.

The model is based on a retail format and located at the heart of the busy shopping area.

Its website says: ” We’ve built a different kind of high street bank. A bank with stores that are open when it suits you, 7 days a week. A bank where you can walk in without an appointment and walk out with a working account, debit card and all. A bank that tells you exactly what you’re getting, in language that actually makes sense. A bank that puts you first”.

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Redwood Bank promises that its money is being invested in British businesses and our local communities

Redwood Bank, Britain’s newest business bank for SMEs, is open for business just over four months after securing its initial banking licence.

The FT reports that co-founder Jonathan Rowland said the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote would continue to restrict appetite among the mainstream banks to engage in commercial property lending:

“This is an ideal time to apply for a full banking licence; the major banks have not returned to anywhere near their pre-crisis business lending levels and the uncertainty caused by Brexit is likely to worsen the situation.” Mr Rowland helped to restructure and recapitalise Kaupthing Bank Luxembourg, a subsidiary of the Icelandic bank.

Gary Wilkinson, co-founder and chief executive of Redwood Bank, said: “We are delighted to be open for business so soon following the issuing of our initial banking licence. We aim to offer a real alternative for small and medium sized organisations, providing them with simple transparent loans and savings accounts, great service and a promise that our money is being invested into British businesses and our local communities.“

 

 

 

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Arc Specialist Engineering Limited: Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Walsall

August 6, 2017

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Arc Specialist Engineering Limited, formerly known as Bowman Birmingham Limited, is a group of steel processing businesses formed in March 2013 which manufacture and supply various specialist steel products. Its majority shareholders were Marc and Nathaniel Meyohas (Greybull Capital, a family-owned, family-run business, see its dealings with Tata, Morrisons and more). Over the years the number of employees has grown from 200 in 2013 to 500.

In July 2017 Mobeus Equity Partners backed Arc’s management team buyout and refer to a partnership with the Arc managers.

Its strategies: to differentiate services and find niche markets

  • As UK manufacturers facing overseas competition, the Arc companies look for manufacturers of products that won’t travel well, because items that are easy to dispatch overseas face competition with countries such as China, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • They have found that small-volume manufacturing accesses markets that larger competitors wouldn’t enter, such as the pre-coated non-stick bakeware market. Many bigger coil coating businesses are coating 100,000 plus tonnes of metal per year; while Arc’s subsidiary Cooper Coated Coil (below) coats just under 20,000 tonnes per year.

  • PVC window and door reinforcement products access markets which require lower run quantities, more frequent deliveries and more product variety than larger firms are interested in offering.
  • Because relatively small amounts are manufactured Arc’s companies are good at ‘changeovers’ – converting an assembly line or machine from running one product to another
  • Its system enables the managing director of each business to be close to customers and employees within the business, providing not only the product itself, but also knowledge, advice and an excellent service, building strong long-term relationships.

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Over Greybull’s four years of ownership, time and resources were invested to turn Arc around. Andy Richardson, who leads the current management team, said: “The past four years have seen a transformation of Arc into a profitable growing business, with hundreds of jobs saved along the way, all made possible by much-needed investment in our manufacturing capabilities. We are immensely excited about the next stage of our journey, which would not have been possible without Greybull’s guidance and support. We are very grateful for everything they have committed to the business”.

 

 

 

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A Perry & Co: new staff and new premises

July 18, 2017

Good news has been received about yet another family-owned firm. A Perry & Co of Cradley Heath, established in 1925 by Arthur Perry, is run by fourth generation family members, employing 85 staff supplying products to clients around the world.

It is the UK’s largest independent manufacturer of hinges, ironmongery, threaded bar, fasteners and fixings, chains, in the UK increasing its number of customers around the world, due to its product range and justifiable reputation for quality and service. It supplies many industries, including boat and marine, heavy machinery (lifting gear), Architectural Metalwork, domestic/garden and the security sector.

A Perry & Co has moved next door to new 90,000 sq ft premises, doubling its warehousing space and taking on five new members of staff.The £3.5m investment includes two-storey office space for a call centre and administration, two large manufacturing units, a 90,000 sq ft purpose-equipped warehouse and distribution centre, a loading yard and car parking. Two new sectors have been introduced to the company by Mr Perry’s sons Steven and Chris: Primus, which specialises in garden art and accessories and Equestrian, which supplies a range of tack room, stable components and related equipment.

Up to 20 containers are now arriving every month. Instead of manually checking the stock and status of every product,  a new business software solution, OrderWise, does what was previously an extensive manual process.  Lead times, stock levels, future forecasted demand, forward orders, existing purchase orders, minimum stock requirements and more is automatically accounted for.  Purchase orders can then be  emailed, faxed or printed and sent directly to suppliers in their native currency.

The new centre will dramatically improve dispatch services to UK and overseas customers, now delivering to more than 14,000 pallet locations.

 

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Top posts in June: Linecross Composites & Newby Foundries – USA interest & a visitor from Kazakhstan

June 21, 2017

It is interesting to see these 2013 posts attracting attention and an unprecedented number of visitors from the United States – three times as many as from the UK, which usually heads the list.

Newby Foundries (iron & steel castings) has overcome its difficulties and BI Composites (Halesowen) was taken over by Linecross (above), saving 120 jobs. This means we say farewell as it now has 280 employees, more than the SME upper limit of 250.

The last entry on the Linecross website was dated 2015 – but probably public outreach is not a priority for the busy company. At the end of 2016 it was selected as one of the UK’s fastest growing private-companies by Real Business.

The advent of a solitary reader from Kazakhstan caused the writer to wonder what the link would be. She found that this country is home to one of the companies in Russia’s POLYPLASTIC Group. As a manufacturer of plastic materials and a processor into several products, reading about the wider range of Linecross products would be of interest and we noted several POLYPLASTIC UK contacts.

See one Kazakh POLYPLASTIC factory here: Arystan Stepnogorsky Pipe Plant http://en.polyplastic.ru/en_contacts

Russia’s industry was being severely damaged by a financial crisis in the 90s but POLYPLASTIC, set up in 1991 managed to maintain its level of production, becoming a top-rated plastics processing conglomerate.

Next week: an update on Kings Norton’s Adi Group

 

 

 

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German readers head the stats list: Aquapak Polymers top post

May 22, 2017

Twice as many German readers visited the site last week compared with UK visitors – why?

Most read news: a March entry, Aquapak Polymers, a sustainable plastics manufacturer, is relocating from Kings Norton to new 50,000 sq ft production base at Hollymoor Point, Rubery. Mike Everard, managing director of Aquapak Polymers, said, “This is a world-class facility that will see the creation of new jobs for Birmingham, as well as supporting the regeneration of the area and the wider goals for the Midlands region.

We note that West Midlands manufacturing businesses are reported to have enjoyed a solid financial performance over the past month according to the latest sector tracking report from insolvency and restructuring body R3.

Later in June, after settling in to my new home in Gloucestershire, there will be news of King Norton’s ADI Electrical and Cradley Heath’s Arthur Perry & Co.