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MAN creates 125 jobs after record-breaking year

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

A unique industrial collective is casting aside the shadows of Brexit by recording its best ever year, with a £10m increase in sales paving the way for 125 new jobs.

The Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), which comprises eight sub-contract manufacturers from across the Black Country and the wider West Midlands, as well as an engineering design agency, has taken advantage of the positive exchange rate for sterling and a desire to tap into British innovation to win contracts across the automotive, aerospace, electronics, renewables and medical sectors.

All nine firms have experienced growth over the last 12 months and have benefitted from sharing best practice, purchasing power and working together to target new clusters.

The expansion now means that MAN employs a 1,000-strong combined workforce across 15 factories and boasts an order book that is fast approaching £90m, with 40% of that turnover sent overseas.

“I am a firm believer in the power of collaboration and that is exactly what has helped us to grow the collective and our individual businesses over the last year,” explained Rowan Crozier, CEO of Brandauer and the new chairman of the Manufacturing Assembly Network.

“We were all together when the results of the European Referendum vote were announced and we were shocked. That feeling lasted for about ten minutes and then, like typical manufacturers, we decided to roll-up our sleeves and see how we could make the most out of the situation. The fall in the price of sterling has certainly been a big help.”

He continued: “This is only one element though. The UK is a great place to manufacture and we are becoming increasingly competitive with our international rivals thanks to a renewed focus on training, investment in automation and a willingness to innovate. Those are the true ingredients behind our success.”

The Manufacturing Assembly Network is made up of Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, Grove Design, KimberMills International, Mec Com, Muller Holdings, PP Control & Automation and SMT Developments.

Together they offer every engineering discipline imaginable, including automation and control systems, casting, design, forging, plastic injection moulding, PCB development and precision stamped parts.

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It is also currently working with Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) to improve processes and commercialise new technologies.

Rowan continued: “This is a very exciting time to be taking the reins at MAN and there’s some immediate opportunities I want to focus on, primarily widening the network’s reach to win more business and strengthening our existing relationships with academia.

“There’s also plenty of new sectors we have yet to really touch and we’ll be looking to take our message out on the road to firms involved in the aerospace, military and defence sectors.”

For the first time in its history, the group will have a deputy chairman with Adam Cunningham of Muller Holdings – which is based at Cleobury Mortimer near Kidderminster and has another site at Wednesbury – unanimously voted in.

“All of the members are striving to be best in their chosen field and when you bring all this together in one collective force it is a strong message to take to potential customers.

“Last year, £5m was invested across nine companies and encompassed factory extensions, new CNC machines, robotic welding cells and the recruitment of apprentices. I can see this figure being even higher in 2018.”

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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