Dura Automotive: driven to success

Fred Tongue catches up with Dura Automotive Body and Glass, winner of four The Manufacturer MX Awards, including the highly sought-after Manufacturer of the Year, and learns how entering has helped the company to even greater fortune.

Overall winner of The Manufacturer of the Year 2016, Dura Automotive Body and Glass Systems.
Overall winner of The Manufacturer of the Year 2016, Dura Automotive Body and Glass Systems.

Last year, Dura Automotive Body and Glass Systems walked away from The Manufacturer MX Awards ceremony with an impressive four titles, including The Manufacturer of the Year. What was the key to their success?

The original motivation for the automotive supplier was simple; they wanted to be a winning team. According to Martin Dinsley, the firm’s plant manager, “We were discussing teams, teamwork and what it takes to create a winning team; a colleague pointed out that if you want to be a winner, then you do need to actually win something.”

And win they did, but just wanting to win was only the start of the journey. The company spoke to the previous year’s big winner, Lambert Engineering, to understand what it takes to be a The Manufacturer MX Award winner.

“We read about the phenomenal success of Lambert Engineering in 2015, so we contacted them to understand their journey and experience. After visiting and sharing best practice, Lambert urged us on to see what we could achieve. We made good friends in the process and we continue to support each other,” Dinsley explained .

The application

Following their discussions with Lambert, the team at Dura Automotive embarked on the application process. “Once we’d actually started the process, it really wasn’t so difficult. It’s a question of making time to write about the things you already do. Like many new processes, it seems daunting at the beginning, but as you get into it the words start to flow,” Dinsley contiuned.

Inspired to enter?

TMMX Awards is the biggest annual celebration in the industry’s calendar, attracting more than 1000 attendees. However, the awards are not just about the ceremony itself, they are the culmination of a rigorous programme designed to provide valuable business improvement advice and feedback from an expert panel of judges.

Companies and individuals of all sectors and sizes are eligible to enter and there is a category to suit every achievement. It is free to enter – entries close on 30 June.

For further details, please visit: themanufacturermxawards.com

Dura Automotive is no stranger to being judged – as a parts supplier to the automotive sector, it is used to regular assessment from third-parties. “Commercial audits usually last a few days, they’re very detailed and although they shouldn’t, they tend to focus on the negative because they want to help you improve,” explained Dinsley.

However, the judging process for The Manufacturer MX Awards took the opposite approach. “The judges looks for positives rather than negatives, so it was a completely different experience,” continued Dinsley.

When I asked Alison Dowd, continuous improvement manager at Dura Automotive’s Birmingham site, how the judges’ three visits and application went, she noted, “Honestly, we were taken aback by the whole process.

“We entered to learn more about ourselves and understand what we need to do to improve. Of course we couldn’t be more delighted to have won three awards – and then to receive the overall judges’ award topped off an amazing experience we’ll never forget.”

Since winning the awards, Dura Automotive has proudly emblazoned its achievements on staff uniforms and lanyards, and even commissioned a giant banner to adorn the factory. “The morale of the workforce is high, and we have some fantastic pictures of people holding the awards on site, which is just as inspiring as the actual ceremony,” enthused Dinsley.

Not just an Award

Dura Automotive has proudly emblazoned its achievements on staff uniforms and lanyards, and even commissioned a giant banner to adorn the factory.
Dura Automotive has proudly emblazoned its achievements on staff uniforms and lanyards, and even commissioned a giant banner to adorn the factory.

It’s clear that that the mood in the factory has improved – everyone enjoyed the victory – but it has also broadened the company’s ambitions for community involvement. Dura Automotive has joined ‘Made in the Midlands’ and has branched out to local schools to inspire young people to become interested in manufacturing.

“We’re more engaged with the community now; for example, we work with a local charity that looks after disadvantaged children, and we help them visit the site,” said Dinsley.

When asked if he would recommend entering the The Manufacturer MX Awards to other companies, Dinsley was clear, “I have no hesitation in saying to others you really should enter; you’ll probably find out that you’re better than you think you are.

“At the awards ceremony, we said that if we’d walked away with nothing then it would still have been worth the effort of going through the application process. But, when you win something it’s really fantastic, and makes it doubly worthwhile!”