With turnover doubling every year since its formation three and a half years ago, SPB Moulds is achieving the kind of exponential growth that other companies would envy.
Having built up many years’ experience in the industry, the two partners behind the specialist mould maker thought they knew the business inside out. But it took the insight of a mentor to open their eyes to its true potential.
Longton-based SPB Moulds has built up a UK-wide customer base for its products since the business was established in October 2008 by Simon Bowers and Bryan Cornwell. Its highly skilled workforce produce handmade moulds which are then used to cast either intricate architectural features from reconstituted stone, or metal components for the engineering industry. Every mould is a bespoke item made to order.
The partners quickly realised that they didn’t have the capacity to keep up with demand and by late 2010 had decided to move to their current larger premises in Willow Row, at the same time making considerable investment in new equipment.
At that point they were told of the Let’s Do Mentoring scheme after receiving support from the Michelin Development Fund and were introduced to volunteer mentor Bob Moore, managing director of multi-millionpound manufacturing group.
The first mentoring session proved a useful focus for Simon and Bryan. “We had worked on a ten-year plan for growth, but Bob put forward a much shorter timescale,” said Simon. “He’s been proved right, because we are going to achieve our original target in a matter of two years.”
Initially the partners didn’t know how a mentor could help them, as Simon explained: “We both had a lot of experience in the industry. I had been a manager for ten years and set up companies for different employers, Bryan had been a works manager for a dozen years.
“We thought we knew what we were doing, but we probably failed to realise what we didn’t know.”
Regular discussions with Bob about strategy and plans for the future have proved vital in plotting the firm’s expansion. “He’s provided another pair of eyes, a sounding board for our ideas. He hasn’t told us how to run the company, but he’s given us the confidence to move forward and that has been very valuable.”
“Bob has played devil’s advocate, he challenges us and make us question our ideas,” said Bryan. “Although we’re experienced, we have to be open-minded and prepared to take on a different perspective, which is just what Bob has given us.”
As well as the soaring turnover, SPB’s success has been reflected in a doubling of the workforce in the last year – there are now 12 people in the company. The partners are also planning to take on an additional unit to more than double their production area and to invest in more equipment. That investment, they believe, must be sustainable and supported by income.
For Bob Moore, SPB’s rapid growth has confirmed his initial assessment of the business. “These guys are very skilled in what they do and there is a real market for their products – the incredible way the business has grown has proved that,” he said.
“I hope I have helped them to focus on what they want the business to achieve and given them the confidence to move forward.
“The next challenge is to think about the systems and administrative controls which they will need to cope with the business as it grows. And they need to realise that it is important for them to work ‘on’ the business not ‘in’ the business.”
Confident strategy planning. Awarness of market potential and investment to meet increased sales.
Turnover doubled year-on-year.
Workforce doubled to 12 in last year.
Expansion into additional space already planned
If you would like to access mentoring or become a mentor contact the NSCCI Project Team
Contact details: NSCCI Project Team, Commerce House, Festival Park, Stoke on Trent, ST1 5BE