Laser specialist pinpoints opportunity for growth following major grant funding
Whitchurch-based Needham Laser Technologies Ltd (NLTL) announces the launch of its new range of laser marking products, initially to the UK market, following a move to a new unit on the Waymills Industrial Estate which was made possible by a grant worth almost £70,000 that was supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Born from parent-company The Needham Group Ltd which, for over 50 years, has specialised in the manufacture and distribution of printers, inks and fluids to a wide range of sectors, NLTL was established to specialise in the development of laser marking technologies and the manufacture of laser systems.
With its intensive period of product development now nearing completion, the need for a dedicated manufacturing space became ever more pressing, as Aled Ellis, Managing Director, explains:
“By evolving from being a distributor of existing laser marking systems, to developing and manufacturing our own, the need for a dedicated space became increasingly important to the success of this new enterprise. Our vision is to both manufacture our laser marking systems as well as build upon our existing team of engineers to provide excellent frontline installation, service, and support.
“We knew that the Group’s existing facility in Whitchurch was already nearing capacity but with the need to share a number of resources and create synergies across the entire Group, it was important that we could stay within close proximity of the existing site. We were, therefore, fortunate to find premises opposite our parent company’s HQ and it is the Group company that has purchased our new unit.
“However, as the new tenants and to best meet our specific requirements, we have needed to carry out a series of improvement works to the unit and the grant that we’ve received is making this possible.”
Work on units 1a and 1b at Waymills has included the creation of dedicated office space which included rewiring and cabling; the refurbishment of an existing area to create a welcoming canteen space for staff; the creation of manufacturing, production and testing rooms, as well as R&D space; showrooms to support the sales function and storage space which has been constructed on unused land outside of the main building to meet health and safety requirements.
The grant received by NLTL is part of the £2.5m Marches Building Investment Grant (MBIG) which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. It has enabled the firm to expand and diversify whilst remaining true to its North Shropshire roots where the family-owned company has been based since it was established in 1962. Already, the expansion has resulted in five new full-time roles being created and with the firm continuing to grow, it is anticipated that further appointments across sales, warehousing and engineering will be made in the coming months.
Speaking on behalf of the MBIG grant scheme, Programme Manager Caroline Cattle, comments:
“The scheme is intended to support businesses which need to finance extensions, renovations or reconfigurations in order to realise their growth potential. For Needham Laser Technologies, being able to expand whilst staying close to its parent company and having sufficient space to realise its growth potential was absolutely vital, and it’s been a pleasure to support them through this process.”
Gill Hamer, Marches LEP Director, adds:
“The Marches Building Investment Grant is another excellent example of partnership working making a tangible difference to ambitious businesses across the Marches region. I’d encourage any other SMEs looking to realise their growth potential to contact the Marches Growth Hub where advice and guidance can be given on the wealth of funding schemes available.”
Aled found out about the funding from the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and several recommendations from within the firm’s own local business network. Receiving the funding was instrumental in making the expansion possible and Aled concludes:
“Whilst the application process was quite rigorous, the support received from the grant team was great and the impact receiving the funding has made to us simply can’t be underestimated.”
Open to B2B businesses, the MBIG scheme awards grants of up to 45% of the total project costs (to a maximum £100,000). These are intended to cover conversion and alteration costs. They cannot be used towards purchasing property, equipment, or ‘excessive’ landscaping costs. Nor can they be made retrospectively.
Applicants to the Marches Building Investment Grant can be either owner-occupiers or tenants although for the latter, they must have a fixed term lease with at least six years unexpired.
Herefordshire Council is the accountable body for the MBIG scheme. Full details are available from Caroline Cattle and Alison Rogers on firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01432 260 662.
For additional information on Needham Laser Technologies, visit www.needhamlaser.com.