The Steel City’s time to shine

Posted on 9 Apr 2013 by The Manufacturer

Charles Turner is managing director of Sheffield-based industrial knives manufacturer Durham-Duplex. Later this month (18th April) Made in Sheffield, of which he is chairman, will hold its annual dinner at Cutler’s Hall in the city as part of the Global Manufacturing Festival (GMF), which runs from 17th – 19th April 2013.

The Made in Sheffield dinner was sold out by Christmas, the festival convention and trade show currently stands at 700 bookings and 950 students are booked for the ‘Get up to speed’ skills event on 17th April. Why has demand for these ventures been  so successful?

We’re building on previous successes, and there is a real affinity to the area and what we do, making us renowned throughout the world as a centre of industry. Our dinner has been sold out since Christmas and I believe the festival has attracted in excess of 700 visitors. This shows that the South Yorkshire area is the perfect location to hold an event celebrating manufacturing. It’d be very easy to hold it in London but far better to hold it where Industry is based and to bring London up here to see what is happening today.

Manufacturing has changed and so have the markets we operate in. It makes sense to highlight our manufacturing and international reputation by bringing the GMF to Sheffield with its proven history of making things and a global reputation for quality manufactured products.

The scheme is ran exclusively through the private sector, existing without any state assistance. Is there a reason why Sheffield has done it this way?

It’s simply a case that you can’t stand back and expect to rely on a Quango or any other public body to go out there and do it for you. If you want to get things moving then you need to take action. Durham-Duplex get involved because we have been a Sheffield Manufacturer since 1910 and the fact that our knives continue Sheffield’s reputation for quality products is a key part of our marketing strategy in the UK and overseas.

Sheffield Companies may operate privately but retain a strong innovation, business and skills partnership with the Sheffield City Council and the Universities. Sheffield is also unique in having focussed manufacturing leadership through the Company of Cutlers who work very well in partnership with The Council, Chambers, Creative Sheffield and LEP to help make things happen like GMF and The Centenary of Stainless Steel celebrations.

Can you estimate the overseas sales value generated from doing activities like the above?

It’d be hard for me to put an exact estimate on it, although I’m sure there is an economist out there somewhere who no doubt could! A large percentage of what we make is exported, so our overseas market is obviously integral to us. Sheffield is an integral part of the global OEM supply chain, for example Durham Duplex’s knives are mainly sold B2B and used by multinational companies across the world. We also call upon a large supply chain of OEM’s. What a lot of people also don’t know is that 75-80% of aircraft will contain Sheffield steel in some way or another – and that shows the prominence it still has globally and not just in this country.

Does it really help in attracting interest from the big global companies?

We are Modern Sheffield Cutlers and by supporting the GMF we do our part to keep pushing the quality inherent in “Made in Sheffield” as a brand which opens doors. The Convention itself is always very useful to keep up to date with developments, skills and opportunities in the global market. The exhibition is also an opportunity to show our wide range in industrial blades, safety hand knives and machine knives to a wide audience alongside companies like Tata Steel, Rolls Royce, Firth Rixson, Boeing and others at the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

How does it help Durham-Duplex specifically?

For us it’s a great way of engaging with other manufacturers. The Made in Sheffield Dinner in the evening is an opportunity to relax with peers, their guests, sponsors and visitors to celebrate not only Sheffield but also 100 years since the discovery of stainless steel.  This year we are also part of the team that made the award, of stainless steel of course, which gives an added shine to the evening. It is all part of building brand and developing business as a Sheffield Company.