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Radical re-think ensures survival of Birmingham manufacturing firm

Lifting equipment manufacturer Wilmat, extends range of custom products

A radical re-think has transformed the fortunes of a Birmingham-based manufacturing company that is now on target to improve turnover by 25 per cent and planning to take on additional staff.

The manufacturing sector has been particularly hard-hit by the recent economic crisis but handling equipment specialist Wilmat appears to have weathered the worst of the storm and is looking forward to a bright 2010.

"The past year has not been easy and there may still be uncertainties ahead but we have taken a fresh look at the way we drive the business forward and it is already having an impact on our performance," explained Wilmat Managing Director Teresa Hands, who was part of a management buy out of the company in 2008.

Teresa went on to explain that the manufacturing division of the Wilmat Group – which employs 28 people at its Steward Street headquarters – has traditionally delivered ‘one-off’ lifting products for clients. Now the company is looking at how this equipment can be used by other businesses and is developing a range of clear product lines.

For example, Wilmat was asked to design and manufacture a lift for use in a mortuary environment, leading to the development of the company’s Dignity 60 range, which is now being marketed to hospitals across the UK.

The shift in direction has been made possible by the successful management buy out by Teresa and fellow director Andrew Capella, who between them have worked for the firm for more than 48 years. The former owner and founder of the business, Roger Williams remains with the company as Chairman.

Continued Teresa: "The buy out deal was completed around 18 months ago, just before the worst of the recession hit but we never doubted the ability of the company to survive, or its potential to prosper.

"We were also determined to retain the skills of our workforce and to minimise any redundancies we went down to a three-day-week when the economy was at its lowest point.

"Now I am pleased to report we are back to a full five-day-week and on target to increase group turnover by 25 per cent in 2010.

"What’s more we aim to increase our workforce by at least 20 per cent early in the new year," she added.

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