Hull manufacturer Advanced Plastics celebrates dramatic growth
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 6 Jul 2017
Investment in technology and skills has fuelled dramatic growth at a Hull manufacturer.
Over the past 4 years, Advanced Plastics in Sutton Fields Industrial Estate has invested more than £5.2m in plant and machinery alone, helping it to drive efficiency and boost its bottom line.
And the investment is paying dividends, with the company on target to achieve turnover of £16m this year – up from £7.9m in 2013.
Staffing levels are also up, from 84 to 154.
Joint managing director Chris Pearson said: “One thing you cannot afford to do in UK manufacturing is to stand still. We are competing against other manufactures both locally and globally, so we have to continually invest to stay ahead of the curve.
“Moving into our current site took a leap of faith; it was much bigger than our previous facilities, but we took the decision that as a business we were going to grow, and we had the ability to do so, and we are obviously pleased we had the confidence to do that.
“Potential customers are now seeing us as a larger player in our industry and we are therefore receiving enquiries on a much bigger scale than ever before.”
Beginning life in a 2,700 square feet unit in Gothenburg Way, Advanced Plastics Ltd now occupies a 50,000 sq ft facility in Bergen Way.
The firm, which is this year celebrating its 25th anniversary, manufactures a vast range of plastic components for both local and international customers.
Its clients range from local Hull boiler manufacturer Ideal Boilers to car manufacturers like Jaguar Landrover and Nissan.
And while many of the parts it makes might be unrecognisable to the untrained eye, without them some of the most prestigious consumer goods available in today’s market would grind to a halt.
Fellow managing director and co-founder Rob Anderson said: “We tend to work in development partnerships with our customer, working with them from concept right through to volume manufacture.
“Sometimes a customer will know what they want to produce, but will not know the most economical way to do it, or will design something we know cannot be reproduced on a large scale in a robust way.
“By working with them we can identify issues like this, which from a supply chain point of view saves them a lot of time and money.
“We are now one of only circa 30 UK plastic injection moulding companies to be certified to ISO-TS16949, which is the gold standard for companies supplying to the automotive industry.
“The biggest opportunity we have is to build on the profile we now have.”
Skills, or rather lack of them, is an issue facing businesses throughout the country and here in the Humber is no different.
The Humber Local Enterprise Partnership has identified skills as a key priority for the local economy.
To bridge the gap, Advanced Plastics is investing heavily in upskilling its workforce, giving each employee the tools they need to progress while training young people from the ground up through a dedicated apprenticeship scheme.
Mr Pearson said: “We realised the only way to resolve it was to take matters in to our own hands. A lot of businesses look to central Government and ask what are they going to do about it, but for me only employers can do what is needed to address the issue.
“Finding the right skills can only be achieved through training and developing staff, and by bringing on board apprentices.”
In 2013, the company launched a directive which stated every staff member would undergo an average of 4 hours of training and development every month.
Since then, Advanced Plastic’s employees have clocked up about 35,000 hours of training, with a structured apprenticeship programme seeing 7 new apprentices join the firm.
“It was about saying ‘this is how we are going to operate in the future’.
“In 2013 and we did not know how it was going to pan out, but it has worked really well for us.”
Mr Anderson added: “We have a culture of continuous improvement. Something we expect from our team, and something which our customers demand of us, is the ability to offer better value.
“We can only do that by investing and working smarter.
“But we also need our employees to help us. We could not have grown as we have without our people and they have been great; they have really taken the baton and run with it.”