The move from being an importer to a manufacturer has proven successful for Leicestershire-based QTS, helping the firm provide better customer service, secure new contracts and create jobs.
QTS, a specialist provider of wire mesh based material handling solutions for the logistics industry, has announced it is on the verge of quadrupling its floorspace by moving into new facilities in the East Midlands.
Following issues with lead times, the management team took the brave decision to reshore production from China to the UK by creating its own manufacturing and assembly line in the region.
They were supported by experts from the Business Growth Service’s Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and ReshoreUK, who provided support with factory layout, installation of machinery and implementing processes that gave the company the efficiency and quality demanded by its high-profile client base.
The company’s managing director, Shaun Ingram explained: “The rise of online shopping and the need to provide flexibility for warehouses and distribution centres had driven significant demand for our products.
“Traditionally, we’d imported around 95% of our product in complete form from China, yet had noticed a desire from our customers to decrease the turnaround time for installations of solutions, a turnaround that was probably standing at around 8-9 weeks.”
He continued: “There was also a pressure to ensure you are adhering to regulations, such as fire and healthy and safety…our clients couldn’t wait that long and we had to be in a position to move with them.
“The decision was taken to create our own manufacturing plant in the East Midlands, starting first with assembly and then followed by full scale production for our solutions, which range from the easySHELF wire decking to storGuard partitions and anti-collapse mesh.”
QTS has worked with MAS on creating a strategy to achieve the transformation, proving instrumental in sourcing match-funding for new tooling and introducing lean manufacture.
Business growth manger, James Bosworth has also provided support to find skilled staff able to carry out the new production processes.
Ingram added: “Clearly, while we had a lot of knowledge about our market and product, what we knew less about was how to go about actually installing a manufacturing facility.
“MAS has made this process much smoother and easier than had we undertaken it ourselves, and, crucially, ensured we have been able to maintain our service to customers throughout.”
Bosworth noted: “It’s great to see an ambitious company like QTS firmly on the growth path. We were able to support the firm with funding for tooling and additional staff training to help them manufacture their own solutions previously sourced from China…a great reshore success story.”
QTS is keen to take advantage of its reputation as a bona fide manufacturer of innovative mesh based handling solutions.
From seven staff at the start of the reshoring process, the company has increased its workforce to 11 and holds aspirations to grow that number to 28 by 2016 and boost turnover from £2m to £5m.
This expansion will be made possible by the relocation to a new 50,000 sqft site in Nottinghamshire by August 2015.
Ingram concluded: “We’re currently in talks with the Regional Growth Fund about helping us as the move – combined with the machinery we’ve bought – represents a £1.2m investment in UK manufacturing.”