Deservedly bearing the title of Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year, Gary Summers is the man whose specialist contracting company provides the facades for buildings across Britain.
With his positive outlook, failure has never been an option for Gary, especially when he bought a struggling aluminium window installation business called Alumet, back in 1992, for £30,000.
He was confident he could turn the debt-ridden company around, and having changed the name to Alumet Systems UK he did just that, in a remarkable two years, and he hasn’t looked back. Alumet is now Britain’s foremost bespoke building cladding provider, fabricating and installing a range of building facades, including a bomb-blast resistant walling system and solar shading system.
Gary is Managing Director of the firm, which has a 70,000 square foot factory in Southam, Warwickshire, providing more than 100 jobs for the town. Turnover for 2010 was £27-million and with expansion and diversification plans on the table, Gary is anticipating this will increase to £50-million in the next two years.
Over the past 19 years Alumet – and Gary personally – has accumulated an impressive collection of awards and accolades, of which he is immensely proud and puts down to "excellent teamwork".
"The Queen’s Award for Enterprise in 2004 was particularly important, because it launched us into the premier league in our field," said Gary. It didn’t end there though – Alumet’s continued innovation under Gary’s guiding hand earned it a second Queen’s Award in 2009 for the development of a revolutionary bomb-blast resistant glazed wall system.
One of the most memorable events on Gary’s road to success was the official opening of his "special project" – the £500,000 Innovation and Training Centre at the Alumet head office – in June 2008.
"It was a red-letter day," recalls Gary. "We hosted HRH The Duke of Kent and a whole array of dignitaries."
For Gary himself the crowning achievement came in January 2011 when he was declared Midlands Entrepreneur of the Year.
It hasn’t been roses all the way though. Like most of the construction industry, Alumet was hard hit by the recession back in 2009. "We had to ask our staff to take a temporary salary cut, and take the factory down to a four-day week," said Gary.
"The firm’s reputation stood us in good stead," he said. Alumet came through the rough patch debt-free, privately owned and cash rich, which is the way Gary likes it.
Gary believes the secret of success is to invest in training, innovation and people. His latest development is in the field of renewable energy, with the establishment of EOS Energy, a subsidiary of Alumet which installs photovoltaic panels to produce solar power.
When it comes to people, Gary is very happy to be actively involved in the local community, from which he draws his manpower, supporting local charities, sponsoring the rugby club and being involved with the school.