A Plymouth factory that almost went under in the recession is being hailed as the Best Growth Story in the South West by the judges of a prestigious national competition.
Before being taken over by Dura Manufacturing, the factory was days away from closure when the recession hit – but it has more than doubled its workforce, picked up the Queen’s Award For Export Achievement, and triumphed in the regional round of the Great Faces Of British Business contest.
It’s now up against 10 other businesses in the UK for the national title plus a chance of a £30,000 prize package if it wins the Grand Prix in the awards run by the Business Is Great Britain campaign and BT.
The title will be decided by a public vote, so Dura Manufacturing’s Managing Director Dominic Wishlade is hoping people in the South West will show their support by voting for it online.
“We’re honoured to have been judged the Best Growth Story in the South West,” says Dominic. “So many businesses are trying so hard in our region that it’s humbling to be chosen as the best among them.”
Dominic used to be a customer of the factory’s former owner but stepped in, like Victor Kiam, to buy the company when a defaulting client put it into financial difficulties.
“We relied on the factory to make our fitted garage interiors for us so it made sense to buy it and try to give its workforce a future.
“The staff rallied behind us and supported every change we introduced, which made it so much easier. And the new machinery we’ve installed has given us a competitive edge in the world of metal-bending.”
Flat sheets of metal can be fed into one end of a machine and emerge, seconds later, as a fully-formed steel drawer or part of a cabinet.
Dura is best known for the fitted garage interiors it supplies to car enthusiasts and motoring manufacturers including Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Bugatti, but it also does contract manufacturing for clients all over the world.
“If you need sheet metal bent, folded, drilled, punched or assembled, we can probably do it,” says Dominic. “And we can design as well as manufacture and paint products in custom colours.”
Dura’s renaissance, its Queen’s Award and its healthy export performance – 65% of its output goes abroad – helped it win over the judges in the Great Faces Of British Business competition, which is supported by the Government through the Department for Business, Innovation And Skills and UK Trade & Investment (UKTi).
Dominic will be at a glittering awards night at the top of the BT Tower in London on 3 March where the winners will be revealed.
“Whether we win the national title or not, we’re absolutely thrilled to have got this far and to be representing the South West in such an important competition,” says Dominic.
“Our staff are tickled pink to think that all their years of hard work and dedication have been rewarded in such a public way.”
Voting is open until 23 February at http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/competition