A leading West Bromwich foundry is helping to transform the traditional stereotypes of the sector by appointing a female boss to lead its expansion.
Gina Steventon, who has been with the business since leaving school, has taken the helm at Aluminium Products Ltd (ALPRO) and is already setting her sights on increasing sales to £2m over the next eighteen months.
She is looking to take advantage of the firm’s unique capability in sand and gravity die casting, which has seen it produce decorative lighting for Canary Wharf, retro seating for Selfridges, large tooling for automotive and aerospace clients and parts for the rail, MoD and oil and gas sectors.
It also boasts a track record of producing ‘one off’ batches of complex components, with the most high profile example being the traditional wheels fitted to the train used in the James Bond film ‘Skyfall’.
“This is a very exciting time for the business and I’m extremely proud to have been appointed to lead the next stage of its development,” explained Steventon, who took over from former managing director Mike Laker this month.
“There are substantial export opportunities we can take advantage of and we are seeing a significant increase in enquiries from our core markets. With what we’ve got in the pipeline – combined with the launch of the new website – we’re confident we can hit £2m by the end of 2016.”
She went on to add: “I’ve worked in this industry for 28 years so have tremendous experience and lots of contacts. The fact I’m a woman in a male dominated industry shouldn’t really come into it, as long as my team deliver the quality, price and performance of the parts.”
Established in 1937 and located from its current site in Haines Street since 1945, ALPRO is one of the most respected craft foundries in the UK.
The company, which employs 32 people, combines the traditional skills of industry with modern technology, including the use of self-setting sand and metal treatment control.
Its experienced production team can work with customers to cover all types of aluminium and zinc castings, from one-off prototypes to medium/large volume manufacture. Parts can weigh as little as a few grams to large castings weighing up to 1.5 tonnes.
Laker , who will remain as a consultant director, continued: “Gina knows the business inside out, so was the natural choice to take over as the new MD.
“She’s got some very exciting plans for taking the company forward and I’m confident she will hit her £2m sales target.”
Steventonconcluded: “Growing the business is a major aim and we’ll definitely need more people as we expand. However, this will mean meeting the skills challenge head on, trying to entice more apprentices into the foundry sector and working with education providers to develop specialist training courses.
“We’re not going to sit back and wait for this to happen, we’re going to make it happen.”