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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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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Thermotec news

December 12, 2016

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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.