Rowan Crozier, Sales Director at manufacturer of precision metal components Brandauer, provides one of The Manufacturer's yearly reviews straight from the heart of industry.
TM: Highlight of the year?
Rowan Crozier: It has to be the phenomenal global impact of Jaguar Land Rover and the UK’s ability to attract £5.5bn of automotive investment into the country.
TM: Lowlight of the year?
RC: Continuing economic challenges and huge problems in the eurozone have done a lot to dampen enthusiasm and exacerbate caution in the marketplace. This has had a knock-on effect with some of the major players taking longer to make positive decisions on placing orders.
TM: Biggest story of the year?
RC: It has to be our 150th birthday celebrations, which have included visits from Lord Digby Jones, Vince Cable and HRH Princess Anne, which was a major boost for the company, both from the publicity it generated and workforce morale.
We also now have one of the finest toilets ever seen in a manufacturing facility!
TM: Hero of the year?
RC: Only one candidate for me and that’s the late David Grove, who was one of the West Midlands leading business personalities – a member of the West Midlands Industrial Development Board and the CBI Regional Council, and a trustee of Midlands Excellence – and a key supporter of UK industry.
He was responsible for the development of private investment firm Grove Industries, which put long-term investment into 11 companies at the time of his death. His heart was always dedicated to seeing manufacturing thrive in this country and he will always be remembered as someone who backed his beliefs with funding that made a real difference to firms.
TM: Villain of the year?
RC: The vast majority of politicians, who still have no understanding of the day-to-day issues facing small and medium-sized businesses. They talk about supporting us to grow, yet very rarely translate this into funding business support that is actually useful.
TM: Best political move for business?
RC: Making R&D tax credits ‘above the line’ in December is a huge boost to both our business and other manufacturers across the UK.
It’s definitely a more competitive tax refund and should encourage industry to boost spending to improve the way they do business.
TM: Political howler of the year?
RC: The slow pace in which the Government has developed an alternative for the Regional Development Agencies, which despite criticism, delivered some excellent infrastructure projects and funded targeted business support.
Vince Cable spent some time at Brandauer and enjoyed telling us how much he loved listening to manufacturers. When he came to talk about us in a future speech, he got us completely wrong. What did you say again Vince?
TM: Politician of the year?
RC: Not applicable.
TM: Your biggest deal of the year?
RC: An electronic pin for use in rear view car mirrors and a deal in the renewable sector have the potential to add £3m of sales next year.
TM: Technological breakthrough of the year?
RC: We’ve invested £750,000 into purchasing two new high-speed Brandauer presses and now possess the ability to laser mark thin gauge metallic strips.
We have also introduced the process of putting complex forms into paper thin material.
Away from conventional technology, we’re already seen as decent tweeters and regularly use social media to drive traffic to the website and secure new leads. #marketing.
TM: How will manufacturing fare in 2013?
RC: It will be a cautious first half with people spending their hard-earned profits in a controlled way. In some instances I feel decisions may be put off until later in the year.
The second half of the year should see more noticeable growth.
TM: Most promising marketplace for 2013 and why?
Brandauer currently operates in nine different sectors, including plumbing, medical, electronics and telecoms. We do expect to see growth across the majority of these markets, but the two that we feel will offer a real boom in sales are renewables and automotive.
Both of these are driven by legislation and the need to find a greener form of energy and transport. We’ve worked hard to partner with organisations driving this agenda and would expect this to pay off between now and 2015.