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Innovative VAS shaping bright future on back of successful year

A furnace servicing company is looking forward to making further progress in 2022 on the back of a successful year and a strong order book of domestic and international business.

MD Mike Long, front centre, with VAS team

Vacuum & Atmosphere Services (VAS), based in Smethwick, saw more than £1 million in additional service work generated by a new-look management team as it built on more than two decades as a market leader in its industrial sector.

A trusted partner for leading brands, VAS launched in 2000 to offer services for vacuum and atmosphere furnaces before the company progressed to offer the complete service package to the heat treatment industry, from bespoke new furnaces to spare parts.

Originally started by two engineers, VAS now employs 31 staff and provides furnace services for a range of clients including Mercedes, GE Power, Moog and Collins Aerospace. Seen within their sector as an engineering company run by engineers, VAS is expanding its products and services for clients in the UK and abroad by adopting new technology including hi-tech control systems.

Managing director Mike Long said results for the last 12 months were pleasing given the bigger picture for the UK economy. Mike said: "Our financial performance for 2021 was on a par with pre-Covid years, despite the challenging economic headwinds, with the business lined up to exceed this level in the coming years.

"We firmly believe the business is on a journey to meet the requirements of customers as they change, with VAS adapting in turn to be there to deliver high standards of service as our market moves forward."

The VAS company motto is 'Quality from experience'. Although the business has extensive experience of its sector it is not afraid of moving forwards to embrace the change ahead.

Mike said: "The company has made a conscious effort to prepare the younger generation of leaders to be able to take on the challenges ahead of them to lead the company to further success. Over the last 12 months, the VAS senior management have supported and funded management training for the figures likely to be at the heart of the business in the years ahead."

Having completed their management courses, Aaron Long has been promoted to head of vacuum sales, Greg Walker leads atmosphere sales and Lee Buttery has become projects manager. Following on from these promotions, a group of managers have completed Black Country Chamber of Commerce training, resulting in Lee Hollis, James Long and Mike Oldham all taking on middle manager roles.

Andy Nisbet was appointed to the newly created role of quality and health and safety manager to ensure compliance with the fast changing regulations around Covid and to use the time to ensure quality check systems were in place.

Mike attributes an increase in service contracts of £1 million per year, generated over the past 12 months, as being proof that the young managers can make a quick impact. Mike said: "The Covid pandemic has changed things and made us aware of the need for future planning. We firmly believe that if you always do what you have always done you will always get what you always got. So investing and supporting in the younger leaders has paid off."

The VAS team are making conscious, practical efforts to reduce their carbon impact, while VAS adapts its offer to keep ahead of the industry changes. The team are increasing their services around digital control systems and growing their energy efficiency offering.

VAS have introduced a long term strategy to bring in apprentices and future talent. Two apprentices have progressed to be engineers, with a new one on board to begin training. VAS has also earned its official gas registration after two engineers achieved their qualifications.

Head of atmosphere products Greg Walker says the future of VAS looks "more positive now than ever before". He added: "Going into 2022 we have a bigger order book than ever before. Covid has make us take a step back and define what we want the business to be."

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