An established Nottinghamshire firm could create up to 15 new jobs after grant funding from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership paved the way to expand a new manufacturing process.
S&S Plastics specialises in the design and manufacture of technical precision plastic injection moulding tools, injection moulded components and associated assemblies.
Recently, it has successfully tested the market on a small scale involving a 3D foiling veneering technology that adds a wood grain effect to window and door components manufactured in its mould shop.
It has now been successful in applying for a grant from D2N2’s Unlocking Investment for Growth programme (UI4G), which is supported by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund, and the £56,500 received will go towards the £226,000 project to buy new machinery, upgrade the warehouse and create a controlled foiling room to expand production of the new manufacturing process.
And while it will guarantee five new, full-time jobs at the Kirkby-in-Ashfield business by March 2014, Managing Director Richard Munyard says if all goes to plan, a further ten positions could be created by early 2015.
That would see the business grow from 45 employees at present to 60 and Mr Munyard said the successful application for grant funding was the difference when it came to going ahead with this project and expansion.
Mr Munyard, who set up S&S Plastics in 1989, said: “Coming out of a recession is now the time to invest and winning the grant gave us a golden opportunity to take a greater leap of faith to go forward and gives us that much needed cash to invest in a larger way than we would have done.
“We would not have made such bold moves otherwise and while you can never guarantee the outcome, the feeling is manufacturing in the UK is very strong at present.
“In the last six months, we have noticed a big change in all the industries we work with and the economy is really picking up and the future is looking much brighter. This has given us the confidence to move ahead with this project. We talk on a regular basis to our customer base and I am pleased to report that the majority are telling me that they all feel more confident about the future and that their order book is looking considerably better than six months ago.
“The help from D2N2 will enable us to bring in a new machine into our Foiling department which once all the work has been completed will give us a much needed temperature controlled environment. With the larger machine and controlled manufacturing environment we should be able to take this department from its humble beginnings to an expected turnover of in the region of £450k to £500k. When you think turnover from this new product would have been zero in June 2011, it shows how the research and development of this process and product was key.”
The overall project will see S&S Plastics move from a one-shift to a two-shift system on this new process, while across the whole business, it will move from a two-shift system to 24 hours, five days per week.
Back in 2008 when the recession hit, S&S Plastics was forced to almost half its workforce during difficult times but market diversification enabled the company to survive and in recent years, it has again grown its staff base.
Mr Munyard added: “Investing now in this technology will help us maximise opportunities and also help us meet the demands of key customers, improve efficiency and as a result, create new jobs, along with securing present jobs.
“But one of the largest challenges the company faces is recruiting skilled staff to work in most departments. We are very keen to bring youngsters into the business, but also recognise that they take time to train up to the high standards that we set. Unfortunately due to the massive turn down in business right across the world we have lost a considerable amount of the key skills required in manufacturing.
“This we have to see as a challenge to train youngsters and get them interested in manufacturing as a career choice. I would like to see year 6/7 children from local schools make more contact with their local manufacturing companies so that they can visit and see how things are made and maybe that would encourage those young minds to think towards their own future.”
D2N2 Chief Executive David Ralph said: “This is a perfect example of how grant funding from the UI4G programme can make the difference between a project coming to fruition or not.
“S&S Plastics is a family-owned, innovative business which wants to drive forward and while it states this grant will help create five full-time jobs, it is excellent to hear the company believes it has the potential to create a total of 15 jobs as part of its plans in the near future.
“Had the grant funding not been available, S&S Plastics might have opted against going ahead with this project which would have been a real shame.
“It is positive to know D2N2 can make that difference in helping SMEs create jobs locally and I would urge businesses who could benefit from our UI4G programme to get in touch because S&S Plastics is the perfect example of the difference this grant funding can make.
“And on the issue of skills, business consistently identifies this as their number one barrier to growth and for that reason alone skills is one of the key cornerstones of our Growth Strategy – to deliver 55,000 jobs over the next ten years.
“We have to recognise that for there to be a step change in skills, outcomes will not be delivered through any magic bullet but with a relentless pursuit of excellence. Fundamentally, and in D2N2’s view, placing employability and the needs of employers at the forefront of our Skills for Growth Strategy is key.”
With further UI4G applications going through due diligence, the schemes coming to fruition across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire sees D2N2 already working with grant offers to applicants totalling £1.3 million to help create well over 100 long-term jobs and pave the way for many more.
Dozens more applications are being worked through and EMB Ltd, who manage the programme on behalf of D2N2, has a pipeline of enquiries and would welcome further expressions of interest for capital investment projects that will create long-term sustainable jobs.
This £5m UI4G programme continues to be open to new applications and has recently been bolstered by a further injection of capital support from the European Regional Development Fund.
The programme will provide a grant in support of capital investment projects with a minimum overall project value of £200,000. In exceptional circumstances up to £500,000 of grant funding is available for projects that can demonstrate real potential to create new jobs. The process is competitive and applications will be rigorously assessed.
The main criteria for assessment will be:
- Overall strength of business case in terms of deliverability, impact and risk minimisation
- Number of new sustainable, private sector jobs created
- Level of private sector support investment that is leveraged by the grant funding
- Eligibility for Regional Growth Fund support – including State Aid compliance
- Value for money
David Smith, UI4G co-ordinator, said: “If you are working with, or run a business in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire with a capital investment project that will create long-term sustainable jobs but can’t quite raise the capital necessary to purchase the assets required, then UI4G may be for you.”
For more information go to www.d2n2.org/UI4G or email UI4G@embltd.co.uk or call 01332 826366.