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Having been in business for 30 years, DB Sheetmetals has established itself as one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of sheet metal, providing a one-stop shop from receiving a design to delivering a product with finished paintwork for over 80 different clients.
It uses sophisticated machinery to punch holes and laser cut designs into all sizes of sheet metal to manufacture a range of products including office furniture, data racks, lorry parts, pop-up rooms for computers, point-of-sale displays and a variety of shop fittings. The finished designs are then welded together before being painted in the factory.
Having experienced rapid growth, the company had to find private funding for a new £200,000 laser cutter. The process to secure this funding was especially arduous, and for Managing Director Caroline Law, not one she wanted to repeat for future financing.
So, when the company’s next big project came up – to replace the lighting in the factory’s workshop – Caroline was introduced to Richard Glinn, one of the Growth Hub’s business advisors. Richard was able to put Caroline in touch with St Edmundsbury Borough Council from whom she was able to help secure a £6,000 grant from the Small Grants Scheme towards the £25,000 LED light replacement project.
Following this success, Caroline approached Richard again in 2017 to enquire about grant assistance for a new ‘Rumbler’, a machine that cleans sheet metal. The old one was inefficient and unreliable. A new one would enable it to put more work through more efficiently and open up its service to more clients and new markets.
Once more, Caroline secured £2,000 part funding for the £12,000 project. With the new ‘Rumbler’ installed and the subsequent increase in quality, DB Sheetmetals were able to start exporting to Canada.
Having upgraded several bits of machinery up until this point, it was becoming more apparent that some of the company’s other equipment was ageing. Perhaps the most important area of the business that needed a refresh was its paint line. But, it was also the most capital-hungry to replace.
Caroline spoke to Richard about this next potential project and outlined the amount of investment required. Once reviewed in detail, they realised that this was a great opportunity to future-proof the business and give it enormous new potential by installing a fully automated online paint line, rather than replacing the existing manual one on a like-for-like basis.
Having run a cost-benefit analysis, Caroline was confident that buying and installing the automated online paint line was the preferred option and set about working with Richard to put together a submission to request part-funding of £60,000 from the Growing Business Fund to help with the £400,000 total cost. One of the key benefits of getting the more modern paint line was that it would also create three new jobs at the company.
“As you’d expect, the process was quite time-consuming but Richard had set realistic expectations for this and had helped us prepare our submission. So that it was very clear how we intended to invest the funds and the benefits that would give the business.
“He then introduced me to Grant Scheme Managers, Hayley Johnson and Dawn Last, who were brilliant at chaperoning us through the assessment process to the point where we received approval,” explained Caroline. “And, having a defined process to go through, which included looking at different suppliers, the more we talked it through the more we learned how best to do this.”
“Being able to purchase the automated online paint line has enabled us to jump 20 years forward,” she continued. “Applying for the additional funding required for the higher specced machinery will make a big difference to our operation and, to a certain degree, will future-proof our business for a good number of years as we are now way ahead of the competition. It was a potentially big risk but the Growth Hub’s help and support mitigated a lot of that and it’s resulted in us safeguarding the company’s future.”
“Without the support of Richard and the Growth Hub, we wouldn’t have been able to make such a bold step at this stage of our development. But it will pay off in droves, as we will continue to be competitive. We know we will have future requirements for funding and advice so we will be getting in touch with Richard as soon as we know what the next project is.”
Richard Glinn said, “I first met with Caroline in February 2017 when she outlined to me the plans that she and her team had for the business. It was evident from that first meeting that DB Sheetmetals were ambitious and understood the opportunities they needed to take if they were to grow at a faster rate than they had been in previous years. At our first meeting, I do remember Caroline saying “you might be hearing from me quite often” and she was true to her word!
“Caroline was looking to forge a relationship with someone that could help her to realise her vision but until we met she hadn’t found that third party. She was very open in sharing her options with me so that we could do a proper assessment of where we could help. Fortunately, manufacturing and engineering are preferred sectors for the Growing Business Fund so for DB Sheetmetals it was a case of clearly demonstrating what business growth would result from getting the part-funding.
“Having a strong plan and clear goals made it easier for the submission to be assessed and approved meaning that Caroline could go ahead with the purchase of the new equipment quickly and to a higher spec than normal. DB Sheetmetals should see a significant step-change in its production capacity once the new paint line is installed and I fully expect it to come back to the Growth Hub in the future for more support.”
If you have plans to grow your business and would like some support, please contact New Anglia Growth Hub on 0300 333 6356 or email email@example.com.