PPS: re-investment to secure success for the future

August 24, 2015

kirsty 5Following good news from Hydraforce, a press release about their latest investment has been forwarded by managing director, Kirsty Davies-Chinnock of Professional Polishing Services Ltd in Smethwick.

As the first UK free-issue polishing company to process wide sheet and plate via a 2000mm wide dull and satin polishing line, they are expanding this department with the purchase of a new double-headed line from Costa Levigatrici SpA in Italy, which will arrive and be commissioned during December 2015. The new line will polish plates up to 2000mm wide and 20mm thick, with a maximum piece weight of 2 tonne.

Alberto Burtini from Costa explains why their machine was the right choice for Professional Polishing Services:

costa logo“We were proud to demonstrate our build and engineering quality during their visit to our three factories in Italy. The machine is designed by the latest generation 3D Cad Cam technology and the software is uniquely developed by our engineers thus allowing us the control of every single machine function and create also tailor made solutions for special needs.”

Kirsty was impressed with the trials carried out in Italy:

“It’s an exciting period for PPS, this investment is a fantastic opportunity for us to grow to the next level and to cement our position as the UK’s market leader in stainless steel mechanical finishing.”

The investment itself is the largest ever made by Professional Polishing Services in its thirty two year history. This additional capital expansion builds on an ethos of dedicated growth and re-investment to secure success for the future.

tag logoA web search revealed that Kirsty has also been named as executive ambassador for TAG Network Midlands.

TAG is a networking association that celebrates and supports trainees, apprentices, interns and graduate level professionals across all industry sectors.


Orgbar Aluminium, based on Earlswood Trading Estate

September 13, 2014

orgbar earlswood estate

Orgbar Aluminium is an engineering company, based in Earlswood, specialising in machining aluminium, non-ferrous metals and plastics for use in industries ranging from commercial refrigeration, shop fitting and exhibition stands, transport and high end Hi-Fi accessories.

orgbarlogoOrgbar can handle small, medium or high volume production runs, delivering cnc machining, cutting, presswork, welding and complete fabrication to customers’ standards. Anodising and powder coating are also available. It has a full design and CAD facility data linked to a 24 hour online manufacturing centre, integrated to full quality assurance (ISO9001) and product testing standards.

orgbar mdIts owner, Dana Krauze (on the right), previously worked as a book-keeper and company secretary in the engineering sector and in 2008 decided to buy the aluminium fabrication business, now known as Orgbar.

The company had previously operated predominantly in the rail, automotive and shop fitting – sectors all hit by the recession – and went into administration. Dana believed the company workforce was a good team and had the potential to grow the company by expanding its range of products and diversifying into other industry sectors. After a few challenging years and continued on-going personal investment into Orgbar, the business stabilised, moved into profit and started to grow as the economy moved out of recession.

At the end of 2013, the level of enquiries being converted into orders was rising and Dana applied for Warwickshire Rural Growth Network’s Micro-Enterprise Grant for funding to help her buy plant and equipment to increase production and capacity,  recruit additional staff and take advantage of the opportunities they had worked hard to secure.

The University of Warwick Science Park’s Access to Finance team helped in preparing her business case and Orgbar were able to obtain a £13,000 grant.

This money is earmarked to pay for a new metal saw and other equipment that has greatly increased the company’s efficiency. Already they are reaping the rewards with higher productivity than they could have done otherwise and secured new sales.

As Dana Krauze says, now Orgbar has the new machinery, the increasing orders can be met and new staff taken on:

“It’s good news for us and for the region.”

H.T. Brigham in Coleshill expands and still finds time to maintain a remarkable blog

August 22, 2014


brigham logo

Two years ago news of H.T.Brigham was presented on this site. Since 1947 this company has supplied metal presswork and metal stamping to home and global markets in several sectors, including the automotive, construction, medical and gas industries.

We read on the Made in the Midlands website that as part of an on-going investment programme they have just installed a fully reconditioned Cincinnati HME 150 ton power press to assist with an increasing number of orders requiring finishing/secondary operations.


There is an interesting blog on their website. One post is about manufacturing and engineering sector’s growing skills gap. HT Brigham particularly needs young toolmakers.to augment their ‘aging and decreasing skills pool’. Apprenticeship schemes have long been an effective method of recruiting and nurturing engineering talent but there are risks, especially for smaller businesses. The low minimum wage of £2.68 per hour (though like HT Brigham, many companies will choose to pay more) apprenticeship grants and local jobs fund initiatives, can make this an appealing option financially.

However, with most apprenticeship programmes combining shop-floor and college based training for an average of 3 years, there is a significant long-term commitment on the employer’s part. Colleagues will need commitment and patience to nurture the individual through the process which may take them away from their regular duties to some degree. And after all this investment there is no guarantee that they will stay. Setting out a clear career path, continual appraisals and pay scale increments for apprentices, encourage commitment. Contractual tie-ins are another way for a company to protect its investment for a given period of time.

HT Brigham Director, Simone Thomas, wrote about the role women have to play in the manufacturing environment

brigham directors

“It is crucial that we continue to nurture and inspire the next generation of women astronauts, prime ministers, athletes, board directors and more and I shall carry on in my matriarchal role of trying to lead a group of dedicated females to further success in manufacturing”. 

H.T. Brigham was founded by a husband and wife team in a garden shed, utilising one hand press and delivering the components locally in the sidecar of their motorbike.

Following Hugh Brigham’s untimely death, Margaret Brigham successfully took the business forward at a time when female business leaders were few and far between, especially in the manufacturing sector. She continued to do this up until her death in 1997. Ms Thomas values female colleagues at H.T. Brigham – ‘an invaluable asset to a company with loyal input and meticulous attention to detail’. She points out that though this market sector may not have an obvious appeal for women it can provide a challenging and stimulating career path for young female recruits down a variety of avenues within manufacturing.

HTB’s blog advised: Think Global Act Local

H.T. Brigham has the option of competitively sourcing many products and services on a national and international scale, but has certain requirements which will always be better satisfied by a local supplier.

The trend for sourcing from the Far East appears to be reversing. ‘Supplier response’ can be crucial, with a focus on time to market, quick turnarounds and short lead-times. A local company will take less time to deliver, at a lower logistical cost than a company which is further away. They can be more reactive to changing demands and urgent requirements, more flexible with batch sizes and delivery schedules and can quickly address any problems.

The benefits of having a localised supply chain, competitive on price or quality, can be considerable and with over 70% of its suppliers based in the West Midlands area, HTB is taking full advantage of the region’s skill base.

“A flaming June” for Professional Polishing in Smethwick

June 21, 2014

Kirsty Davies-Chinnock, Managing Director of PPS, which continues to increase investment in plant, leading to greater capacity and flexibility, celebrates winning three major contracts in June:

pps screen

  • polishing intricate laser cut panels (above) for a hospital in London,
  • polishing narrow strip in coil for the automotive sector, working closely with a fabricator in Romania and
  • a balustrade order for a UK landmark as part of their multi-million refurbishment.

The major contract is to polish hundreds of intricate laser cut profiles for functional and decorative screens to separate different areas of a hospital in London. Each profile has a unique design and is laser cut before polishing. With hundreds of designs PPS will ensure that each panel is clearly identified so that that installation runs smoothly.

kirsty 3.12Kirsty said:

“We love getting involved in projects like this.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to be working with such beautiful designs and our operators can be really proud of the part they play in this prestigious project.”


She adds: “the month isn’t over yet . . . “

Late payment by large organisations threatens economic recovery; should each industry adopt the Dutch engineering model?

September 28, 2013


late payment invoiceOur records show major complaints about late payment dating from 2008. Typical is the BBC 2011 report that SMEs were owed a record £33.6bn in late payments, according to new research by BACS – the highest figure since records began in 2007. SMEs were owed an average of £39,000 and waiting up to two months to get paid.

More than 25% of West Midlands firms polled in August by the Birmingham-based company Bibby Financial Services said late payment of invoices continues despite the introduction in March of the EU’s Late Payment Directive, which aimed to change the late payment culture in the business world and force companies to cap maximum contractual periods at 60 days.

FPB logo

The Forum of Private Business reports that the new rules are simple – debtors will be forced to pay interest and reimburse the reasonable recovery costs of the creditor, if they do not pay for goods and services on time. They are targeted at larger firms and the public sector and could release £150bn to smaller businesses throughout Europe. More detailed information is available on the FPB site – follow the link above.

Central government practice improved

Central government has improved its practice and made a commitment to pay all Whitehall invoices to small firms within 10 days under an initiative called the Prompt Payment Code. The FSB wants all public agencies to follow the lead of central government.

Late payment in the UK continues to deteriorate

late payment invoice past dueWhile Bacs Payment Schemes estimates that more than £30 billion is currently owed to SMEs in overdue payments, new research from credit reference agency Experian found that UK businesses paid their invoices 24.58 days beyond agreed credit terms during the second quarter of 2013, one day later than the same period last year. Driving this decline were the country’s largest companies, employing more than 500 members of staff, whose average payment time increased from 30.91 days beyond terms to 34.19.

Government threats failed – will fines work?

In August the Hilton-Baird business finance blog reported that Vince Cable is now considering ways to fine late paying companies as the government looks to address one of the greatest challenges facing British businesses at present. He has asked officials to look at whether a levy could entice ‘tardy’ companies to improve their payment practices, after threats to name and shame members of the FTSE 350 who refused to sign up to the voluntary Prompt Payment Code were ignored by all but 72 of the FTSE 100 and 71 of the FTSE 250.

So what is the answer?

The Post quotes Bibby’s West Midlands spokesperson Sharon Wiltshire: “Firms should seek advice on the best means of getting any overdue payments in. But the legal enforcement of legislation is a problem for the small and medium company:

  • It is too expensive.
  • It is too time-consuming.
  • There is a reluctance to take an action which will lose them a customer.

Go it alone? Or can our readers from countries on the right advocate better systems?

WMP 18.9The Dutch engineering industry did not wait for legislation. They set up an industry-regulated payment routine years ago.

My engineer neighbour tells me that in his dealings with Holland he found the Dutch engineering industry’s system works well. 30% of the full amount due is paid immediately, and then 30% is paid on completion of the job. The final amount is deemed to be the profit and follow later within a stipulated time frame. This does help to avoid the cash-flow problems afflicting those in this country who often have to wait for three months – and more – before any payment is made.

Enough said!


Onshoring, SME growth and the moral of this story

August 24, 2013


For the full article by Peter Davies, who inspired the setting up of the West Midlands Producers’ website, including a brief account of setting up his own company, go to this website.


Peter DaviesI grew up in post war Britain, accustomed to rationing and shortages in a period when consumer items – if available at all – were generally ‘Made in Britain’ and proudly stamped so. Growing up in the back streets of Birmingham we had little in the way of possessions but we were given a work ethic that said ‘if you can’t afford it you can’t have it’ and ‘if you’re well enough to go out you’re well enough to go to school/work’

At a Chamber of Commerce meeting some years ago Tony Blair referred to manufacturers as ‘dinosaurs’

As a SME owner for the past thirty years I have seen at first hand the fall from grace that was manufacturing. At a Chamber of Commerce meeting some years ago Tony Blair referred to manufacturers as ‘dinosaurs’ illustrating the then government view. In the past couple of years though there seems to have been a much more positive view of producers from the Coalition and it is great to see that there is a new buzz word around – onshoring! To bring back production of certain items from overseas, particularly China, will be a slow process but as there is now only a small cost advantage to producing in China this will become an option that is considered more and more.

Despite the media doom and gloom we have seen growth of around 20% year on year since the crisis of 2008, have invested heavily and look to invest more in the coming years in both plant and people. We look on the future as an exciting challenge helping British companies to manufacture their products in the UK . . .

Difficult as it is we can all play a small part by actively buying British in preference to imported goods. It might take a bit of effort but it is surprising how much we do make and how much effect we can have by being a bit selective. Often it turns out that the British product is cheaper and almost certainly better than foreign goods.

So, where I am I going with this?

I guess the first thing for Britain to do is to change the culture of ‘soft options’ whether it be in the perception that we [the UK] are a soft touch for everyone or whether it is the emphasis on ‘soft’ business. At long last Government seems to be recognising that manufacturing is essential to wealth.

If there is a moral to this story it is that, even today, there are opportunities for anyone to be good at what they do. If you are a road sweeper, be proud to have the cleanest street in town; if you are a bus driver be the smoothest driver, the friendliest face, if you are a businessman [or woman] be the most honourable and ethical person you can, in other words always give of your absolute best. The mind set of ‘take’ has to stop in the Britain of today. With the lead of Government, parents and educators we need to encourage work as a norm not an exception, not everyone can be a pop star or a premiership footballer but an approach of giving of your best rather than a shallow ‘take what you can’ attitude must be good for the individual, their employer and eventually for Britain. In particular, there is a bright future for anyone who is prepared to go into 21st Century manufacturing. It may not be overly glamorous but can always be interesting and challenging and sometimes very rewarding.

The managing director and chairman/founder of PPS talk about the future for steel polishing in the UK

March 14, 2013


PPS logoComments on the last article, sent by email, prompted a visit to the website of Smethwick’s Professional Polishing Services which revealed a new video.

In it, Kirsty Davies-Chinnock – Managing Director of PPS Ltd introduces their new machine, and Peter Davies – Chairman and Founder – looks back over the past 30 years, and also talks about what the future holds for the next 30 years.


Peter Davies video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHVBSpaHuW0, 4 Mar 2013

Kirsty’s email comments:

“Great to hear (Newby’s) have bought Gabriel’s – Years ago we had an abrasive division and Gabriel’s were one of my customers!!

“And it is good that the local administrators are trying to help – it’s much harder work than simply stripping and abandoning but does give hope for the future”.