Sector diversification ensures survival of Birmingham manufacturing firm

Posted on 18 Nov 2009 by The Manufacturer

A radical rethink has transformed the fortunes of Birmingham-based handling equipment specialist, Wilmat, which is now on target to improve turnover by 25%.

Wilmat’s manufacturing division — which employs 28 people at its Steward Street headquarters — has traditionally delivered ‘one-off’ lifting products for clients.

However, the company is now looking at how this equipment can be used by other businesses and is accordingly developing a range of clear product lines. For example, Wilmat has developed of the Dignity 60 range, which is currently being marketed to hospitals across the UK.

The shift in direction was made possible by the successful management buy out by managing directors Teresa Hands and Andrew Capella — having worked at the firm for more than 48 years collectively. The former owner and founder of the business, Roger Williams, remains with the company as chairman.

Said Hands: “The buy out deal was completed just before the worst of the recession hit, but we never doubted the ability of the company to survive or its potential to prosper. Wilmat was determined to retain the skills of our workforce and to minimise any redundancies. As such, we went down to a three-day-week when the economy was at its lowest point.”

“Nonetheless, I am pleased to report that the company is back to a full five-day-week, and on target to increase group turnover by 25% in 2010. What is more, we aim to increase our workforce by at least 20% early in the new year,” she added.