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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DK Rewinds: maintaining and manufacturing spares for traction motors

May 6, 2017

DK Rewinds a Smethwick family business founded in 1976 by Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhogal, has two sites in the area, employing over 60 full time staff, including three electrical engineering apprentices.

It provides a “One Stop” repair and rewind service for traction motors in the utilities, rail (below) and industrial sectors.

It has a dedicated staff and specialist equipment providing a comprehensive maintenance service for those three sectors.

Its extensive CNC machine shop manufactures spares for many different types of electric motors in use all over the world today.

 The British rail freight company English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Company (EWS) was taken over by DB Schenker but trains still carry the EWS liveries and logos

The company was visited last year by London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, who met staff and talked about their work.

Balvinder S Bhogal, managing director and Val Shawcross

DK Rewinds supplies components and undertakes repairs to keep London Underground trains operational. It specialises in repairing the traction motors that power Central Line trains, producing new components for motors that match the originals so that faulty trains can be quickly fixed and brought back into service.

Balvinder Bhogal said: “We have been working with Transport for London for 30 years as a key supplier. This has enabled DK Rewinds to invest in our workforce, which includes training apprentice and graduate engineers. The work we receive from TfL is very important to the Midlands and the region benefits greatly from these business links.”

The latest news: DK Rewinds attended the Freight in the City’s summit, Improving the last mile’, on 1st March 2017 at Edgbaston Stadium.

 

 

 

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Subcon Lasers: ‘in the forefront’ due to continual investment in the latest technology

April 16, 2017

Subcon Laser Cutting, based in Nuneaton, invests in the latest technology available to keep at the forefront of a rapidly changing and challenging manufacturing environment.

Business Desk published news of its acquisition of the UK’s first 8kw fibre laser cutting system with Cooline technology, which helps to cut fine detail into thick material and is controlled remotely using the latest iPad technology. This machine, installed at the end of 2016, was supplied and made by the Trumpf Group in Germany and the investment is already opening up opportunities including new orders from India, with further enquiries from Belgium, Switzerland and Italy.

Production Engineering Excellence Magazine, which covers the latest technological developments relevant to production engineers and managers, reports that Subcon Laser Cutting received the CET Coventry & Warwickshire ‘Excellence in Manufacturing’ award. The winners were announced at a gala dinner and presentation night at the Ricoh Arena in October.

This interesting photograph shows Subcon’s 5 Axis Laser Cutting TruLaser Cell 7040. Though  other laser cutting services will only work on flat sheet, bar and plate, the 5 axis service is involved with creating high quality 3D parts. It is highly regarded by the automotive industry because it is versatile – can work with anything ranging from prototype/body to supporting all kinds of production lines.

Tom Mongan, general manager of Subcon Laser Cutting, speaks in similar vein to the one of the co-founders of this website, Peter Davies (Professional Polishing, Smethwick), who noted that although the usual downbeat attitude to manufacturing persists, when he attends business gatherings the attitude is buoyant, with news of orders coming in.

Mr Mongan said: “Depending on what you read or who you listen to, they say UK manufacturing lags behind our EU counterparts in productivity and investment, well not from where I am standing and I would like to know who is providing the statistics and information”.

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Zaun, another successful West Midlands manufacturer

February 25, 2017

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zaun-logo Zaun, which makes high security and perimeter systems steel fencing, has an extensive range of perimeter fencinghigh security fencingsports equipmentautomatic electric gatessecurity bollards and hostile vehicle mitigation products. It designs and provides equipment for homes, housing estates, business premises, commercial properties, parks, public space and the perimeter of play and sport areas.

The company was originally based in Rupert Street in Birmingham, importing mesh from Germany, but relocated to a larger five-acre site on Steel Drive in Wolverhampton and has 44 employees according to its Owler profile, though its Linked-in site says, confusingly, that it has 51-200.

After this move, it invested in the Paul Holloway Manufacturing Facility (named after a former employee). This now houses the world’s largest mesh weaving machine which produces the firm’s ArmaWeave, its most intruder-resistant product for the high security market. In 2016, Zaun bought a new tube laser cutter, a further mesh welding line and automated other key processes to enhance its manufacturing capabilities and cut out waste. Additional bailers and squashers have boosted recycling while a new forklift truck has improved materials handling.

  • 2012: Zaun was the largest supplier of temporary high security fencing systems to the London Olympics
  • 2013: it protected the top secret Bilderberg Conference at The Grove Hotel near Watford;
  • 2013: its equipment was used at the G8 Summit at Lough Erne in Northern Ireland;
  • 2014: it provided fencing for the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague
  • and the Glasgow Commonwealth Games,
  • 2015: Zaun was awarded the coveted Security Industry Product of the Year
  • 2015 Award from Security Industry E-Mag

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Zaun celebrated its 20th anniversary in November 2016.

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Walsall-based Albert Jagger decides to bring in some ‘on shore’ manufacturing capability  

January 27, 2017

jagger_logoWalsall-based Albert Jagger is a large manufacturer and suppliers to the commercial vehicle bodybuilder, boat builder, agricultural and engineering industries in the UK.

It has consolidated its supply chain by acquiring Prestwood Engineering. one of the leading manufacturers of pressed components, welded assemblies and fabrications in the West Midlands. Prestwood employees are being retained and will join the100-strong workforce at Albert Jagger.

Prestwood, also based in Walsall, is one of the leading manufacturers of pressed components, welded assemblies and fabrications in the West Midlands. It specialises in low and medium volumes for the spare parts and after-market industries, supplying countries worldwide.

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Corporate finance partner Andy Kay said: “The strategic thinking behind the deal was to bring in some ‘on shore’ manufacturing capability and was the result of a strategic review of the business we conducted with the directors.” Mr Kay was supported on the deal by CCW partner Johnathan Dudley and corporate finance manager Chasz Coulsting, who said:

“Albert Jagger have taken a long hard look at the events of 2016 and made the decision to bring some of their manufacturing closer to home. Prestwood Engineering was an ideal fit and provides both increased and varied capacity as well as economies of scale and distance.”


Webster and Horsfall of Hay Mills: on the Times’ SME 2016 FastTrack list

September 14, 2016

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Part of the FastTrack citation included this paragraph: “Founded in 1720, this family firm works with Birmingham University to develop its wire technologies for customers in the oil, gas, pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Led by chairman Charles Horsfall, 60, it lifted overseas sales to £2.4m in 2015, through online marketing and trade shows”.

Our 2014 history of this company which took us up to 1945, omitted news of its nineteenth century innovations – under Joseph Webster –  in the manufacture of music wire in the first half of the century which led to dramatic improvements in the quality of the sound produced by the concert piano of the age allowing the virtuosity of pianists such as Chopin and Liszt to attain even greater heights

In its account of the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable there was no record that an earlier attempt to lay the cable had failed due to the inferior wire used in its construction, and that Webster and Horsfall was ‘the only company in existence’ able to manufacture wire of sufficient quality to ensure the success of the cable (1866). The Hay Mills Foundation Trust* has, within the archives, a complete record of the company’s part in the enterprise.

A post-war update is provided by the 2007 Telegraph obituary of its chairman, Col. John Coldwell-Horsfall

Following an extensive account of his military career, we read: “In 1946 Horsfall returned to England to take over the running of the family firm, Webster and Horsfall of Hay Mills, Birmingham. The firm, a manufacturer of Atlantic cable, mining ropes and many types of industrial wire, was in severe difficulties at a time of rising post-war demand. Horsfall immediately embarked on a programme of modernisation, scrapping old plant, reducing overmanning whilst maintaining good relations with the trades unions, and taking no salary himself until the firm was back in profit and had cleared its debts. It was back in profit by the end of the year, and by 1966 was enjoying the prosperity it had had in its heyday under his father”.

Proposals to help safeguard jobs within the company, as well as regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the city

In 2014 we reported that work was now underway to redevelop their ten acre Tyseley site as an industrial park with industrial, storage and distribution space. The buildings of architectural interest on the factory site, including the former workers’ housing on the Fordrough and a former schoolroom, will not be affected by the redevelopment proposals. Charles Horsfall, chairman of Webster & Horsfall, believes the proposals will help safeguard jobs within the company, as well as regenerate one of the most deprived areas of the city: “The development of our Tyseley site will generate an income stream from our surplus land to help us do this”.

*The Hay Mills Foundation Trust

webster-hay_mills_school_room_birminghamThe three hundred year history of manufacturing steel wire and wire rope in Birmingham and the histories of the people who worked here is being brought to life at Hay Mills.

Working with the archives of Webster and Horsfall, Birmingham’s oldest manufacturing business, in James Webster’s schoolroom (right) volunteers are delving into employment records and the worlds of music, transport, armaments, telecommunications, mining, oil, food production and health showing how the developments and inventions created here have been at the centre of some of significant and historic industrial events over the last three centuries.

The chairman said: “Our goal is to reach our 300th anniversary, in 2020, fighting fit” –  and it is possible that, with over 114 employees, this British SME with its fast-growing international sales will one day be too large to qualify for that title and so for this website.

 

For more historical information, go to http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/lists/GB-800819-Webster.htm