Midlands Manufacturing is alive and kicking

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Manufacturers have gathered from across the Midlands at an awards ceremony to share their success.

Now in their sixth year, the Made in the Midlands awards celebrated the very best of manufacturing has to offer, giving recognition for investment, innovation, growth, export and diversity across the sector. 2014 saw record levels of entries.

Collectively the 12 recipients of the main Manufacturing Achievement Awards have won over £10m of new business this year alone and have had the confidence to invest a total of over £3m in equipment, processes and their people.

The overall winner was Aldridge based Chemique Adhesive & Sealants Ltd. They are a leading manufacturer and supplier of high performance industrial adhesives and adhesive application equipment.

Following a sustained period of domestic growth Chemique implemented an overseas growth strategy selling to markets in Europe, North America and the Middle East. This has accounted for a 47% growth in exports and almost 20% of their total turnover. Staff levels have also increased to keep pace with demand.

Marketing Manager Darren Lambert said: “We are a mixture of shocked, surprised and delighted. Working for a great manufacturing company and taking our products all over the world from our base here in the Midlands is something that we’re really proud of.”

The runner-up was awarded to Redditch based A E Oscroft & Sons. After investing over £2m in their family owned business the company have successfully re-located and expanded into a 53,5000 sq ft premises. A further £300k in start-of-the-art equipment has enabled them to process and manufacture tooling more accurately and efficiently.

Managing Director, Chris Oscroft, said: “One of the most important aspects of the expansion of the tool room is the additional staff required to help us grow further. We want to further invest in the young people of this country, enhancing their skills through training and apprenticeship schemes for future manufacturing.”

Made in the Midlands Chief Operating Officer, Charles Addison said: “Manufacturers in this region are doing amazing things that they simply regard as a normal days work. To some extent, that’s quite right, but it’s our duty to ensure that their stories demonstrate that we still make things here in the Midlands and make them better than anybody else.”

This was demonstrated in the fiercely contested Young Inventor category. The runner up George Starkey from Black Country UTC, set up work experience with F1 team Red Bull to develop designs for a new wheel nut that will speed up change over times and increase safety.

He was only just beaten to the chequered flag by apprentices Josh Watson from Faurecia and Sam Parke from Neida Products who worked together at In-Comm Training to impress the judges with an fully operational interlocking tool divider.

Addison continued: “The message that came across loud and clear in every single acceptance speech was that manufacturing is alive and kicking. There’s so much to be positive about including the ingenuity of our young inventors and the move to encourage young women to consider engineering as a credible career choice.”

To that effect two inspirational women were honoured for their success and their encouragement to the next generation of female engineers. The runner-up was Flo Wood Managing Director of Datalink Electronics in Loughborough who has risen to the top and passionately believes that young women should be encouraged into engineering.

The winner was Linda Bates a Project Director at B. Hepworth in Redditch. Her skills have helped the company to become one of the leading suppliers of bespoke wipers to the rail industry. She couldn’t attend the event, so her award collected by two of her young female colleagues who paid tribute to the company’s equality values.

Addison concluded: “One of our winners said that the Midlands based manufacturers within the room, collectively, have the skills to make absolutely anything - I couldn’t agree more.”

The awards took place on Thursday 16th October in the main auditorium at Wolverhampton Science Park. The guest speaker was Lorely Burt MP for Solihull.

Made in the Midlands - the voice of manufacturing, is the industrial membership body for Managing Directors of Midlands based manufacturing SMEs.