Successful businesspeople never believe that they have all the answers. At Staffordshire Precision Engineering, a specialist components manufacturer with a 30-year record of success, joint managing directors Gary and Phil Smith have found there’s much to be gained from ‘a fresh pair of eyes’.
Support from their mentor Sean Canavan is helping the two to make key decisions as the firm expands to meet the demands of its highly specialised customer base.
In areas including investment, expansion, training and personnel, Gary and Phil have found Sean’s input invaluable.
The twin brothers, both trained engineers, joined Staffordshire Precision Engineering 13 years ago at the suggestion of their father Stan, the firm’s founder. Having eventually succeeded him as managing director, they have developed what has proved to be a winning strategy.
The company has targeted the aerospace, medical and scienitific sectors and won many short run, high value contracts. “With a highly skilled workforce and specialised machining equipment we can achieve the very high quality levels that specialist customers demand,” explained Gary. “For example, we need to manufacture some components to tolerances of a thousandth of a millimetre.” Achievement of AS9100, the aerospace industry’s quality benchmark, underlines their commitment to high standards.
The company has increased its effort in targeting specialist markets in the past two years, including investment in more new equipment, but the resulting surge in interest from customers has brought its own challenge – the need to expand to meet demand.
Gary and Phil were considering further extensions to their units on the Holditch Industrial Estate, Newcastle under Lyme - the firm’s base since the mid-Eighties – at the time they were introduced to Sean Canavan of the Let’s Do Mentoring team in mid-2010.
“Sean has been very valuable in helping us make a judgment on expansion plans,” said Phil. “He gave us contacts who we would have never got near without him. It has also made us think again about what’s best for the long term future of the business, as well as meeting our immediate need for more space.”
The result is, for the short term at least, the company will expand production into a new unit on neighbouring Lymedale Business Park, where new equipment will be installed and up to three new jobs created.
With around 40 people on the payroll and a commitment to staff development, Gary and Phil have also found Sean’s support on personnel and training issues very useful.
“He has helped us to deal with specific personnel issues and to develop our staff training plan,” said Gary. “We are keen on training our people and bringing new blood into engineering through apprenticeships. We also want to be able to make personnel decision that will be robust for the future.”
A close relationship has developed between Sean and the brothers, with regular meetings and phone conversations at least once a week. “It’s really good to have an outside opinion on things and someone we can bounce ideas off,” said Gary.
Phil agreed. “Sean really does care about local business and creating employment and because he’s mentoring us voluntarily it’s free of any financial issues.”
Sean said that he was pleased to be able to support a company as successful as Precision Engineering in going forward with further expansion. “Gary and Phil are very easy to deal with, they work well together because they respect each other’s views and they are a joy to work with” he said.
“They are having to make important strategic decisions about the future of the company and it’s good that they are open to ideas from outside. I was also pleased that they decided to enter the Staffordshire Business Awards and reached the finals.”
Support in search for new premises which will leading to major capital investment and at least 3 new staff,
Human resources issues solved with the help of new policies
New staff training plan developed
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