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Toolmaker fired up to grow after investment

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A Lye toolmaking company has completed a £500,000 investment programme as it prepares to mark its 45th anniversary with plans to double in size.

HCM Engineering was established in 1969 and quickly developed into one of the UK's leading manufacturers and designers of tooling for aluminium die-casting foundries in high pressure, gravity and low pressure processes plus specialist machining.

The company designs and manufactures tools primarily for aluminium, zinc and moulding companies, with a strong focus on the automotive sector but also works in sectors as diverse as rail, military, agriculture and green technologies.

HCM remains a family company – owned and managed by brother's Simon and Michael Hanson – and currently has a workforce of 24 staff, including six apprentices.

The company is committed to adding value and reducing skill gaps with continued training and development of its current staff and investing in local young people with an apprenticeship programme, along with the investment of new technology.

They are now targeting a doubling of turnover over the next five years as a result of major investments, including phase one installation of two new state-of-the-art CNC machines, leading edge measuring facilities and a complete overhaul of the company's IT platform and upgrading of logistics.

The growth strategy leading to the investment and training investment plan was supported by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) who helped the company determine the pan for the next five years and to access MAS and Regional Growth Fund funding (RGF).

Managing director Simon Hanson said: "Over the last 45 years the company has had to evolve and thrive and the upturn in the automotive industry has been very welcome as its helped us to futureproof the next chapter in the company's history.

"What has stood us in good stead and enabled us to outlast many of our competitors is the 'can do' approach which I think embodies the company and the wider Black Country manufacturing base.

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"Coming from the Black Country, I honestly feel it is in our DNA to make things and I feel a huge sense of pride in our ability to not only make things but make them well.

"The Manufacturing Advisory Service has been brilliant in challenging us to grow and then helping us to identifying sources of funding alongside the capital we have invested ourselves and, most importantly, help us to access this support."

Rachel Eade, Automotive Supply Chain Lead at MAS, said: "HCM has made a clear investment in its own future, not just through the investment in the new machinery and processes, but also in its people.

"Its bespoke apprenticeship programme should be an inspiration to others and shows how investing in people can make such a difference.

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"We were delighted to be able to help, particularly by guiding the company through its strategy development and the process of bidding for Regional Growth Fund money which has had such a huge impact on the scale and speed of expansion.

"MAS is always looking to find new sources of funding for manufacturers and the RGF funding has proven very useful in helping companies press on with their investment plans."

The Regional Growth Fund is a £3.2 billion Government-backed initiative which has so far helped more than 400 individual projects across the country to raise private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment.

Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) provides manufacturing SMEs in the the West Midlands with access to specialist support and guidance in helping them improve and grow.

MAS has a team of expert advisors on the ground working with management teams

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