Thermotec news

December 12, 2016


Thermotec Plastics, based  in Electra Park, Witton, is a Birmingham-based plastic and composites manufacturer, ‘bespoke supplier’ of engineered solutions in vacuum forming/thermoforming, polyurethane mouldings and super lightweight composites, working in several sectors including luxury automotive, off-highway vehicles, aerospace and defence.

PRW, the leading trade magazine serving the UK polymer industry, reported last year that Thermotec had received major funding to help support its plans to develop and expand the business. The group received funding approval from Birmingham City Council from the Greenbridge Supply Chain Programme for SMEs which can give grants for business support packages, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Thermotec’s managing director David Rose said the funding would allow the business to target more business and recruit up to 11 new staff, to join the current workforce of 50 employees, adding:

thermotec-machine“Receiving this funding from The Greenbridge Programme, combined with our own investment will allow us to put automated processes in place that not only increase productivity, but allow us to improve the environmental impact of our activities”. In April 2016 Thermotec announced the addition of a seventh Vacuum Forming Machine to  to support increased demand and new contracts.

crank-trayIn May Thermotec introduced a new crank tray for Jaguar Land Rover From paper concept to product was a 10 week process; and the timeframe for changes could be shortened to 5 Weeks. The whole project, from design to tooling and manufacturing has been done within a 50 mile radius in the Midlands.  

In addition to the new recruits it is aiming to hire, Thermotec has taken steps to upskill its existing workforce with the help of Made in the Midlands members InTraining – a process about which no information has yet been found.




Will the new business tax accounting system for SMEs be more onerous and expensive?

November 19, 2016


Earlier this month Marco Forgione and other people running small and medium-sized businesses wrote to the Financial Times about a ‘flawed’ government consultation on significant changes to business tax reporting:

In just over a year’s time all businesses will be required to file accounts digitally five times a year (every quarter plus an annual final trading statement).

The government’s website on its proposals, Making Tax Digital, is worded positively:


The writers’ comment:

“For the first time in the UK’s history the government will prescribe the way in which all businesses file their accounts, using government approved software. This will require many micro, small and medium-sized businesses to invest in new accounting systems”.




Crofts & Assinder

May 29, 2016

crofts logoEarlier this month Pamela Pinski wrote about Crofts & Assinder Limited based in Lombard Street, Digbeth, “the birth place of industry in Birmingham”.

On the company website we read that in 1875 George Crofts and Frederick Assinder started trading as brass founders in Lombard Street, Digbeth (below: the latest premises).

They specialised in the design and manufacture of cabinet handles and fittings and now use a range of materials including: brass, steel, cast Iron, zinc (mazak/zamak) ceramic, glass, acrylic, plastic and wood. Their products have been used in Rolls-Royces, London’s Ritz and Waldorf hotels, the White House in Washington and the Titanic.

crofts factory

Chief executive, Alex Crofts, the great-great grandson of founder George Crofts has pressed for more schools, and more students, to take an interest in manufacturing and engineering when it’s perceived as an undesirable career choice? Changes to educational funding have meant that the teaching of practical skills in some schools and colleges is reducing, meaning that students miss out on the chance to experience new skills and learn about our industry as a career. He writes about this subject which is taken seriously by other producers featured on this site:

”To address the skills gap, we should look closer to home. It’s important that we don’t forget our existing staff and we invest our time and money in order to teach them new skills. Moreover, individuals who have worked in a company for many years possess traditional skills, which are just as important as modern and technically advanced skills”.

“[T]he UK Commission for Employment and Skills 2016 survey revealed that ‘the modest economic growth of the past four years has been met by an unprecedented shortage of skills, leaving thousands of vacancies unfilled’. In my opinion, the lack of skills could be down to the decline in students wishing to pursue a career in manufacturing.

” . . . [I]ndustry must work closely with teachers and career officers in schools and colleges to offer work experience placements and apprenticeships, which provide a true taste of the industry. Whether it’s through career talks and fairs, work experience, workplace day visits or career sessions with motivational speakers, it’s our job to support and inspire the next generation of young people.

In recent years, Brumhour reports, Crofts has made significant investments into their product design range and now offers an exclusive bespoke design service. This has been followed by a 40% rise in export sales across Australia, France, Benelux, Germany, China, North America and Russia.

For more information, see the Crofts & Assinder website here.



The Black Country Growth Deal: automotive, aerospace and construction sectors

December 8, 2015


A link in the Brummie led to the Birmingham Press article: ‘Made in the Black Country, sold around the world’ and an online search added more information.

The Black Country Growth Deal, ‘Made in the Black Country, Sold around the World’, was agreed with Government in July 2014. The Growth Deal aims to create the skills, connections and locations for further high value manufacturing success and support growth in the Black Country’s automotive, aerospace and construction sectors. Over its lifetime (2015-2021) the Deal will deliver:

  • Leverage of an additional £312m public and private investment, totalling £450m.
  • £162m Government funding 2015- 2021
  • At least 5,000 new jobs and 1,400 new homes
  • New Government investment to the Black Country of £26m in 2015-16
  • Approval for 14 of the 16 projects submitted by the LEP
  • 13 projects will commence in 2015-16, with provisional funding for two more projects 2016 -17, including an Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills.

The Elite Centre will be established as a non-profit making organisation governed by partners and with an industry-led board of directors. The Express and Star (Dec3) reports that project development will be led by the University of Wolverhampton and the centre will operate as a ‘hub and spoke’ model with equipment and facilities being installed across four sites in the Black Country which will regenerate two brownfield sites. The Elite Centre is intended to become the new institute of technology in the Black Country.

The centre will be housed in an 8,600 sq ft regeneration of an historic but derelict building at the University of Wolverhampton’s new Springfield Brewery site in Wolverhampton city centre.

black country2 hub

The foundry and pattern-making spoke will be located on a site adjacent to an existing foundry in Dudley Port with access to their industrial facilities and will demolish a derelict building, replacing it with a purpose built training block of 10,2000 sq ft.

The Growing Priority Sectors Programme is helping small and medium-sized businesses invest in plant, machinery and new buildings so they can compete with the best. The Centre for Advanced Building Technologies and Construction Skills at Dudley College will provide training and skills so local people can benefit from skilled construction jobs on infrastructure projects like HS2.

Universities, Science and Cities Minister Greg Clark said: “This Deal sees £162 million of government investment going into the Black Country to create thousands of new jobs, homes and bolster business. By devolving powers away from Whitehall we are putting local people back into the driving seat of their own growth.”


Read more here:

M6 Motor Bodies

September 29, 2015

Andy Savery set up his garage in 2000, with no plan beyond being his own boss and running that business until he retired.  However, fifteen years later, the opportunity arose of owning a group of four very successful businesses – see details on its former website – and Mr Savery invested his capital in these businesses.

art business2 loans logoThe group’s Financial Director, Bill Douthwaite, originally applied to the Aston Reinvestment Trust (ART), described on this site, for a loan to help with setting up the Birmingham Test Centre; before that loan was fully repaid, the business now known as M6 Motor Bodies came on the market, conveniently placed in Nechells within half a mile of junction six of the M6. Mr Douthwaite successfully applied to ART for a top up loan and bought the business.

M6 Motor Bodies now offers a comprehensive commercial vehicle build, repair and maintenance service to logistics operations (supply chain managements) across the UK.  They can meet all bodywork needs, from dry freight to unique designs and specialist vehicles and manufacture a comprehensive range of dry freight bodies.

m6 motor bodies

In its first seven months, M6 Motor Bodies has doubled its staff from 8 to 16, increasing the number of vehicles in its workshop from 3 to 18.

Videos about this ‘one-stop shop for all your vehicle requirements’ may be seen here:


Studentship available as BCU and Brandauer collaborate to develop low cost pressed metal sensors

July 7, 2015


brandauerBrandauer, a presswork and stamping company now located in Bridge Street West, Aston, Newtown, is supporting a research project at Birmingham City University. A graduate is invited to work for a year, across a broad range of engineering disciplines, including electronics, mechanical and manufacturing engineering, to design and develop a new range of cost effective sensors, fabricated using Brandauer’s core manufacturing capabilities.

To read about the company’s history, recovery from devastating fire and anniversary go to an earlier article on this site. A 2014 BBC account refers in more detail to Brandauer’s design and production of pumping slot shield strips and pressure relief springs for the Hadron Collider.

bcu logoA full studentship is available to cover the cost of tuition fees at the UK/EU rate or, in exceptional circumstances, the overseas rate, and a stipend. In the 2015/2016 academic year, the stipend is £13,863. The studentship is available to support three years’ full-time study, subject to satisfactory progress.

It will involve acting as a Graduate Teaching Assistant support teaching within the department for up to six hours per week. Studentships are awarded based upon academic excellence. Prospective applicants should contact Professor Michael Ward,, to discuss the project.

Deadline for applications: 31 July 2015.
Interviews for shortlisted candidates to be held: 25-29 August 2015.
Start: October 2015.

How to apply? For further details, eligibility and an application form, please follow the link:


Small & medium businesses are bearing the brunt of the tax burden

April 14, 2015

 the conversation header2

Prem Sikka, director of the Association for Accountancy & Business Affairs (AABA), a not-for-profit organisation, discusses the problem of small businesses bearing the brunt of the tax burden. He outlines the UK tax regime (summary):

Historically, a company with annual taxable profits of up to £300,000 is considered to be small and pays tax at the small company rate. A company with profits of £1.5m or above pays tax at the main rate. And those with profits between between £300,000 and £1.5m are liable to pay the main rate but can obtain marginal relief, with the result that tax in the band is tapered.

In 2010, when the coalition government came to office, the main corporation tax rate was 28% and small companies were taxed at 21%. But in March 2015, the government announced it was aligning the two rates and as of April 1 2015 the rate has been 20% for all companies. The reduction in the headline tax rate for large companies has therefore been much bigger than the tiny cut for small companies.

Professor Sikka explains that large companies have other ways of securing tax advantages: “Parliamentary hearings have shown that large companies are adept at creating complex corporate structures to shift their profits through transfer pricing, royalty programmes, intra-group interest payments and management fees to low or no tax jurisdictions. They have the resources to hire large accountancy firms to craft novel tax avoidance schemes to reduce their effective tax rate. They can also second staff to HM Treasury working parties to influence tax legislation and secure favourable concessions . . . Small companies do not share this luxury. Their ability to avoid taxes is low and their effective tax rates are likely to be high”.

Sikka reflects that today’s small companies are tomorrow’s business giants. The conventional political wisdom is that they should be nurtured and supported, but instead their effective tax burden has increased. Labour may be able to help small companies by reducing their business rates, but that would not amount to a reform of business taxation in its various guises.

He ends by noting that no political party has put forward a coherent set of policies to address these injustices and adds that the difference in power between large and small companies cannot be addressed by piecemeal measures, ad hoc tax cuts or business rate subsidies.

Read the full article here: