On the 30th of January 2020, the eve of the UK's exit of the European Union, over 70 manufacturing leaders descended on Boneham & Turner in Sutton-in-Ashfield to discuss, share, and learn how three Made in the Midlands members are Backing Britain to safeguard its future and create a lasting legacy.
The third Backing Britain event, and the second held in the Midlands region, took place at the premises of Boneham & Turner, following November's event at Outokumpu and the first Midlands event at RAF Cosford.
Kicking off with breakfast, refreshments and networking the event was keynoted by both the Chairman of the Made in Group, Lord Whitby and the CEO, Jason Pitt. Three members of Made in the Midlands, Charles Boneham of Boneham & Turner, the hosts, James Perry of Gardner Aerospace, and James Underwood of Micro-Mesh Filtration took to the stage to talk about how their respective companies are Backing Britain.
In a room of over 70 guests, Jason Pitt, the CEO of the Made in Group introduced the members to the premises, thanking Charles Boneham for hosting the event before handing over the stage to the Chairman of the Made in Group, Lord Whitby.
Lord Whitby, who only the night before had been entertaining potential new investors in the UK economy at an event in London, spoke about the power of the Made in Group family, and why the industry should be positive.
Speaking to the room, he explained how, despite "What you may read in the news, what's really going on in the manufacturing reflected in this room by those of you here today."
He went on to discuss how that reflection is present in the fact that 23% of the UK's GDP - over $600 Billion - is either directly created, or underpinned by manufacturing, including those in the room, and that beyond the room 20% of those figures are represented by the 450 members of the Made in the Midlands group.
Speaking first, Charles Boneham talked about the history Boneham & Turner, which is an over century-long story, has its foundations solidly in Backing Britain. The company started in the 20th century as a Jig manufacturer, before moving into the creation of engine components for the 1920s and 1930's era ERA and BRM race car engine.
Charles then went on to showcase how during the Second World War, it created Tail Fins for the Lancaster bomber, components for both the Merlin Engine and the Spitfire gearbox. Yet, in 2020, over a century since the company's humble beginnings, which included a humorous tale about a fight with an Indian prince, which you listen to in the support event video below, it was discussed how the company is today Backing Britain.
As we are now post-Brexit, in the period known as the transition period, trade is all the talk, and it's here where Charles explained that one way they're Backing Britain is by continuing to grow their American Market.
With a factory, which employs 10 in the United States, New Jersey, it was explained to the audience that this expansion, of a British company, has allowed them to work with some of Fortune 500's biggest companies, including Ford Motors (Number 12) and General Motors (Number 13). As a result, the USA market now accounts for 40% of all of Boneham and Turner's business.
The next to speak was one of our newest members, Gardner Aerospace. With 16 sites across the globe, James Perry is the site manager at their largest plant within the company, both in terms of turnover, which stands at £65 Million last year and number of employees at 225.
As a specialist, the company is a leading part manufacturer in the aerospace sector, where they create both fuselage and cabin elements for aircraft. Perhaps then it's no surprise that according to James, to Back Britain, your company, if it's focusing on similar high-complex products, must concentrate on its differentiation.
In James own words, "That product must add value, while also continually reminding them, your clients, what value means to them." Yet but in the case of Gardner Aerospace, they're also Backing Britain due to the locality of both their suppliers and buyers and the advantage they find it gives them in the field.
But besides Backing Britain, what does Britain do to back manufacturers? For James, it's also down to the countries great good labour laws and the flexibility of its workforce.
The final speaker of the event was James Underwood, of Micro-Mesh Filtration. The company, which has its routes back in the mining industry, spoke about how even back in their original design as a company they were Backing Britain. "85% of customers and 90% of suppliers were within a 50-Mile radius."
Not shying away from their history, James spoke about the company struggling to find a place in the post-pitt-closure world of the UK. Yet it's this struggle and the determination of the company which shifted the company to where it is today.
Now, in 2020 the company has redesigned itself and provides a range of services from the filters used in the British Army's main battle Tank, the Challenger 2 to signing an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Ministry of State for Military Production and Advanced Engineering Solutions in Egypt, to manufacture and supply their renowned air filters for use in gas turbines in Egyptian power stations.
When asked about how they managed to turn-around their companies success, James spoke about how he discovered that people, "Really value the family business aspect because it allows them to create a relationship with the same person and creating long-lasting ties."
In addition to the networking, breakfast and tour, the guests were also treated to a look at the University of Wolverhampton's Racing Teams Formula 3 Racing Car, a local project that Made in the Midlands Sponsor.
Later in the event, those who were attending were also able to speak to the newly elected Conservative Party MP for Ashfield, Lee Anderson, who spoke to the guests about everything from Brexit to the importance of manufacturing in the UK economy.
The Backing Britain campaign started in October 2019 and will continue throughout 2020. Born out of our shared passion for supporting local manufacturing, the year-long campaign was established to eliminate negativity within the manufacturing sector and to act as a beacon of light during times of uncertainty.
The campaign will visit a location every month alternating between the Midlands and Yorkshire, with the next event taking place on the 20th of February at Made in Yorkshire Member Appris premises, located in Bradford. For more details, please follow this link.