(L to R) Les Wilkins, John Nollett and Alan Gardner
Investment in new machinery will now add the equivalent of 140 working hours a week as new owners chief executive John Nollett, chairman Les Wilkins and finance director Alan Gardner continue the firm’s transformation.
Turnover is on track for £9.5 million in 2018 following £2 million of additional contracts to supply automotive parts for Honda and Nissan new models.
The sales boost has been one of several sweet moments for the three who had long thought Pressmark, with its skilled workforce and them at the helm, could be a supply chain star working with original equipment manufacturers.
Then at last they got the chance when a previous management buyout, that had left the Warwickshire company short of skills and funding, opened the door.
Our priorities were to engage the workforce, that’s now 92 with 25 new jobs, and grow sales. We broke even last December
“By the time we were ready with our plan the company had lost 25 per cent of its sales when a contract ended. But this didn’t phase us,” says Nollett, 48.
“We knew we had the operational and financial knowledge to make Pressmark productive very quickly and had identified the potential for new contracts in the automotive and other sectors.
“Our priorities were to engage the workforce, that’s now 92 with 25 new jobs, and grow sales. We broke even last December.”
Funding, in the region of £2.5 million, has included working capital from ABN AMRO and through the government-backed Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, a loan from Cambridge & Counties Bank and the partners’ own money.
Women are a dominant force in Pressmark, composing 65 per cent of the shopfloor teams
“We’ve put our homes on the line for Pressmark, that’s shows how we are in for the long haul and how much we believe in it,” says Nollett, a seasoned manufacturer and currently president of Coventry and Warwickshire’s chamber of commerce.
The company makes to a customer’s design, contributing expertise on cost-effective solutions and often developing tooling.
“With one recent order we applied the gains possible with the technology we have and could slash the cost by 50 per cent,” says Nollett.
Millions of different size parts in both standard metals and exotic alloys then roll off its large bed presses.
That capability has put it in a strong positon to take advantage of the technological changes and environmental demands now sweeping through the industry, explains Nollett.
“Materials have to be lighter and stronger when a vehicle is battery powered, to minimise the energy drain. That means a metal like titanium or a sandwich-type mix where the metal is layered with another material, for example carbon fibre.
Pressmark Pressings supply parts that eventually go to Honda
“To produce parts from these materials you must have new tooling, of the kind we can produce.”
Opportunities also lie in other sectors, such as construction where Pressmark makes the attachments for buildings’ curtain walling, and in machines that form part of an escalator’s system.
For its main automotive clients, having a specialist developer and supplier on the doorstep is the most efficient and competitive option.
“We can also expand by undertaking project management of multi-stage operations,” says Wilkins, who previously held senior production management roles with MG Rover and BMW.
“We’ve just worked with a Japanese manufacturer of complex electromechanical parts that was investigating producing here in the UK.
“A tentative enquiry led to us providing advice during a feasibility study and now quotes for tooling, production and assembly of components.”
Turnover is on track for £9.5 million in 2018 following £2 million of additional contracts
R&D (research and development) tax credits, which help companies fund innovations and were raised to 12 per cent in the Budget, have been “crucial” to Pressmark’s developments say the three, who have used their extensive manufacturing and management experience to contain the impact of currency swings and other changes in the economic outlook.
Women are a dominant force in Pressmark, composing 65 per cent of the shopfloor teams. “Equality is right at the centre of our business,” stresses Nollett, who is steering a company that already embracing target areas set out in the Government’s latest industrial strategy.
Keen supporters of apprenticeships as one of the best ways to tackle skills shortages, the three owners are considering acquisitions as a means of expanding.
More automation is also planned, which Nollett sees as a positive for employees.
“It takes away the repetition and creates more interesting jobs for people,” he says. “They will always be needed.”