As new research shows Midland manufacturers keen to invest for the future, a Kingswinford firm is proving the point with new equipment and plans to recruit more staff.
Arford Steel Profiles, on the Dawley Trading Estate, specialises in the flame cut profiling of carbon steels and is setting its sights on 35 per cent growth after completing a series of new infrastructure projects for the M1.
Managing director Diane Kimberley said: “We’ve been going for seven years so have come through some tough times, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“There’s been a gradual increase in enquiries and our pipeline of orders is looking really healthy. This has given us the confidence to recently invest over £400,000 into a new plasma cutting machine that we’ve sourced from the UK.”
She continued: “When this new technology is installed it will boost our capacity by 35 per cent and, looking at our future order book, I believe we could be doing £3 million this time next year and £3.6 million by 2015.
“One new person has already been recruited and I’d expect to add another two to our 15-strong workforce to cope with demand.”
Arford Steel’s steel profiles play an integral role in a number of sectors, including automotive, aerospace, construction, material handling and even in rail.
It one of the firms questioned for the recent Manufacturing Advisory Service Barometer and it reflected a growing mood among firms for future expansion.
The MAS Barometer found small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses in the West Midlands are ready to step up investment and create new jobs. 57 per cent of the 89 firms questioned were planning to invest in new machinery and premises and 53 per cent would be looking to take on new staff in the next six months.
Lorraine Holmes, Wolverhampton Science Park-based area director for MAS, said: “Manufacturers tend to be very cautious and traditionally would have needed significant confidence in the long-term future to relax the purse strings.
“Encouragingly, the latest Barometer provides a clear indication that companies are prepared to invest in new machinery and their premises in a bid to remain competitive and take advantage of significant opportunities both at home and abroad.
“It is a reassuring finding and appears to meet the EEF’s recent call for the sector to fund more research, innovation and export growth.”
There also appears to be an appetite for embracing new technologies with 39 per cent of firms indicating they will fund more activity in this area.
At the same time 48 per cent of SME manufacturers reported an increase in sales in the first half of the year, with 67 per cent predicting further growth over the next six months.
Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “These findings are the latest indication that the economy is starting to head in the right direction, as we move from rescue to recovery. It is particularly encouraging to see that confidence is returning and manufacturers are becoming more optimistic about their future growth.”
Most companies work in the automotive, defence and oil and gas sectors but marine, aerospace and electronics industries are also generating strong demand.
Lorraine Holmes added: “The results in this special focus indicates that there is a strong link between innovation and increases in both company growth and profitability.”