AVS Steps into new era of growth thanks to BIP funding

Posted on 1 Apr 2015 by Jonny Williamson

AVS Steps has received a capital injection for new machinery and jobs after being awarded funding from an initiative managed by Birmingham City Council.

A leading supplier to Daimler specialising in foot-operated and electric steps to the automotive industry, AVS Steps has been granted funding through the Council’s Business Innovation Programme (BIP), which promotes innovation across the West Midlands by helping SMEs grow through investment and job creation.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and managed by Birmingham City Council, the £8.7m programme offers match-funded grants of up to £30,000 to SMEs employing up to 249 staff throughout Shropshire, as well as the wider region including Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

The grant is aimed at B2B companies involved in environment and energy technologies; rail; IT and digital; medical technologies; aerospace; building technologies; food & drink; advanced materials and manufacturing, among others.

Keith and Karen Clarke of AVS Steps
Keith and Karen Clarke, owners and operators, AVS Steps.

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Keith and Karen Clarke, AVS Steps was founded more than 20 years ago and currently employs 25 staff in its UK factory, as well as a member of staff in Germany and 10 in China to support the smooth operation of the business in these areas.

The fluctuating euro, coupled with constant pressure to drive down production costs, led AVS Steps to seek funding to help them purchase a new CNC machine to increase their manufacturing capacity and enable them to design and machine their own components in a more cost-effective way.

The funding has also enabled the firm to create three new jobs, and developed more apprentices in engineering.

Keith Clarke, managing director at AVS Steps, said: “The BIP grant has provided us with a vital lifeline in what is a difficult time for manufacturing; we now feel confident that we’ve safeguarded AVS Steps for the future.

“Our new CNC machine is fully installed and we’re already noticing a significant improvement in terms of cost savings and efficiency. It also means we’re in a position to diversify our business, and has allowed us to go from being a parts assembly firm to a manufacturer within the space of three months.

“With our new machinery in place, we now have the capability to offer designer machining for all types of industries, rather than just automotive; we can design and manufacture anything in aluminium, steel or plastic – the possibilities are endless!”