MGP helps fitness equipment firm bring more production in-house

The Manufacturing Growth Programme has helped a Staffordshire business to create 14 jobs and bring more manufacturing in-house.

Bulldog Gear
Bulldog Gear

Bulldog Gear, on New Road Industrial Estate, Hixon, near Stafford, was founded in 2011 with a Prince's Trust loan and is now one of the UK’s leading gym equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

Key customers have included Red Bull, a well-known search engine and elite British and US military units as well as thousands of serious home fitness and training enthusiasts.

During 2021 sales grew due to an increase in customer and business demand for high quality fitness equipment. However, there has also been a 300 per cent increase in UK steel prices, a 500 per cent increase in worldwide shipping costs and raw material increases across the board.

To help with these challenges, Bulldog sought help from the MGP, and growth manager, Phillip Somers has supported the business through three grant-funded projects which have improved Bulldog Gear’s chances of success. Phil helped the business identify its key improvement areas by using a market-leading business diagnostic tool which highlighted that productivity and capacity were areas to be improved upon.

It was identified that the business needed to bring more manufacturing in-house. This could improve quality, increase productivity as well as improve profits and gain better control of its supply chain. The business was already achieving high growth and needed to improve its systems and processes to increase productivity and efficiency to meet demand, prevent any bottle necking and deliver on time.

Mr Somers said:“Bulldog Gear is a high growth business and Kieran, the MD, is realising that taking time to at times to stand back and work on the business rather than stuck in the day-to-day activities has had a real benefit to his company by reviewing his business, identifying growth opportunities and implementing them with external experts.”

The support from MGP has provided Bulldog Gear with funding for a consultant to provide research and development, and for an external expert to help it select and use a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. MGP also provided grant funding towards a capital purchase of an automatic CNC tube bender which has allowed more manufacturing to be brought in house. This has improved productivity and efficiency, and it has supported the reduction of CO2 emissions. Since the start of the three MGP projects, 14 new jobs have been created, a new to firm product has been launched, and a large increase in GVA has been reported.

When asked what advice he would give to a business thinking of using MGP, managing director Kieran Heinich said: “Reach out and approach the experienced and friendly team who can help support and advise company owners who are driven and want to improve their business, whether that be in terms of software, funding, plant and machinery or subject matter experts in terms of consultants etc. Use their services, they’re on your doorstep and all it takes is a phone call.”

Future plans for the business include additional plant and machinery purchases, designing and building of their state-of-the-art manufacturing and fulfilment centre, and implementation and launch of new patented products.

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