Specialist manufacturer invests for growth

January 30, 2019

A family-owned manufacturing business which has operated in Ludlow since it was founded in 1982, has expanded its base so that it can better meet customer demand, drive operational efficiencies, improve the working environment and create new jobs thanks to two grants supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Catherine Bray, manufacturing growth manager, Andy Styles, of Heelman, and Caroline Cattle, MBIG programme manager
Catherine Bray, manufacturing growth manager, Andy Styles, of Heelman, and Caroline Cattle, MBIG programme manager

Heelman, a specialist CNC machine shop that focuses on small and medium batch manufacturing for customers across the automotive, aerospace and pneumatic fittings sectors, has expanded in to a fourth adjoining unit on Ludlow Business Park thanks to a grant worth just under £10,000.
Part of the £2.5m Marches Building Investment Grant (MBIG) which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the scheme is intended to support businesses across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin that need to finance extensions, renovations or reconfigurations of commercial premises. For Heelman, it has meant that physical expansion can be achieved without a move to new premises.
Andy Styles, General Manager, explains:
“Increasing demand from both existing and new customers meant that we needed to review and improve how we managed our production so that we could manage this increased workload.
“Whilst a move to another, larger, unit on the business park was a consideration, this would have entailed moving all the machinery, as well as carrying out reparations to the existing units that we’d vacate and simply that was not financially viable. When we found out, therefore, about the MBIG programme, it quickly became apparent that it could provide a way for us to realise our growth potential.”
Andy and the team had already secured £2625 worth of funding from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to design and support the implementation of a new production control software solution and it was Catherine Bray, Manufacturing Growth Manager, who introduced them to the MBIG team. Andy continues:
“When Catherine introduced us to Caroline Cattle at MBIG, our vision for growth soon became a reality.
“I’m so glad we pursued this as it makes a big difference to us as a company. The new, additional, unit is allowing us to consolidate all non-production functions in to a single space and leave room for additional pieces of equipment that will enable us to improve our overall service to new and existing customers alike.
“The high level of hands-on support provided by the grants team was very welcome and there was always someone available to ask questions to. I’d urge anyone who has considered applying to not hold back as it’s a really straightforward process.”
Heelman’s growth is also expected to lead to a potential 10% increase in turnover. Speaking on behalf of the MBIG grant scheme, Programme Manager Caroline Cattle, adds:
“It’s great to witness a grant applicant come to us via referral from one of our partners in the region as it allows them to benefit from all-round support and achieve a level of growth that may not have otherwise been possible.
“In the case of Heelman, they’re now working on recruiting an additional CNC Programmer as well as focusing on significantly increased turnover. However, they’re doing so confident that they’re also presenting themselves in a more professional and far safer way and this is, in many ways, one of the forgotten aspects of the grant’s benefits.”
The MBIG funding received by Heelman has not only provided distinct areas for non-production activities but has also driven efficiencies via physical adaptions that include an internal opening between the units and the installation of a mezzanine floor. The electrics and lighting have also been upgraded to facilitate continuous working across the 4 units.
Catherine Bray, Manufacturing Growth Manager for The Marches and Worcester, concludes:
“A company the size of Heelman is a perfect example of how a smaller company can realise its growth potential by tapping in to various funding streams. We were delighted to support their vision for growth by providing funding for specialist IT consultancy and now, with the MBIG funds which has allowed their physical growth, I’m sure they’ll enjoy a very successful future.”
Open to B2B businesses, the 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. All projects receiving funding through the scheme must be completed by August 2019.
Herefordshire Council is the accountable body for the MBIG scheme. Full details are available from Caroline Cattle and Alison Rogers on mbig@herefordshire.gov.uk or by calling 01432 260 662.
Further information on the Manufacturing Growth Programme can be found at: www.manufacturinggrowthprogramme.co.uk

Back to top arrow

The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership has now ceased trading and transferred all its functions to Shropshire Council working with Telford & Wrekin Council and Herefordshire Council, in line with the UK Government's plans for devolution.

The Marches LEP was established in 2011 and hands over an impressive legacy from its 13-year life. In that time the LEP invested over £196m in projects across the Marches, securing in excess of £100m of match funding and supported more than 66,000 business interactions.

The schemes supported have made tangible differences to local communities, increasing skills, creating jobs and improving the physical appearance of many towns.

We would like to thank all the LEP Board Members who have given their time freely over the life of the LEP, as well as all the staff who worked for the LEP over the years. We also want to thank our delivery partners, local education providers and local, regional and national stakeholders who helped us achieve so much.

The Marches Growth Hub will continue to support businesses and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford and Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Each of the three Local Authorities will also continue to provide direct business support locally. Details of this support will be available through the Marches Growth Hub website and from the Local Authorities directly. Website: www.marchesgrowthhub.co.uk | email: enquiries@marchesgrowthhub.co.uk.

The Marches Careers Hub will continue to be delivered and will be managed by Shropshire Council, supported by Telford & Wrekin and Herefordshire Councils. Website: www.marchescareershub.co.uk | email: info@marchescareershub.co.uk

For any queries about Getting Building Fund (GBF), Local Growth Fund (LGF) and Marches Investment Fund (MIF) projects supported by the Marches LEP please contact: gary.spence@shropshire.gov.uk

For any finance queries please contact: michelle.hodgkiss@shropshire.gov.uk

The solvent liquidation of the Marches LEP is being managed by the Evelyn Partners Limited. For any matter related to this please contact: Camilla.Mulholland@evelyn.com

Skip to content