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Made in Cumbria!

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Engineering, Export, Innovation, Manufacturing, North West, UK regions

I’m just back from a great visit to Cumbria where I saw some fantastic advanced manufacturing companies. Cumbria is of course renowned for its tourism and, in my opinion, Wastwater in the Lake District was quite rightly voted Britain’s Favourite View on ITV a couple of years ago. But what people don’t realise is just how much hi-tech advanced manufacturing goes on in the county.

I went to see Boardman Transformers, Pentagon Chemicals, Clark Door and Bendalls Engineering to discuss their current and future export strategies. These are just a selection of the fine manufacturing companies in the county, and Cumbria should be proud of such industrial heritage.

There are up to 50,000 people employed in Cumbria’s nuclear industry, Bendalls produces a lot of equipment for use in the sector, successfully beating off competition from Korea and India.

Boardman Transformers is a great example of a smaller company (only ten people) that has adapted its processes to compete well and so has seen its export sales grow by 15 times in a short period of time.

Pentagon Chemicals is a larger firm that has benefited from investing in its future, and 75 per cent of its sales are to long term blue chip partners, a testament to its tremendous customer service.

Clark Door has invested in technology and research and development, patenting a revolutionary energy efficient door for use in cold storage areas. This, along with its strong expertise in acoustic doors (the company equipped the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden), will see exports grow substantially in the coming years.

All these companies invest in their people too. I went to see Nucleus Training (or Gen II as they are more popularly known) which has world class facilities for the training of apprentices in all aspects of engineering.

All of the companies I visited have apprentices who have been through Gen II. Developing our young people’s skills is absolutely vital for a vibrant manufacturing sector.

For me, though, the overwhelming impression I took away from Cumbria was that the Made in Britain mark is still seen as a significant advantage in winning orders. Without prompting, all the companies I saw said their customers were attracted, not just by the world class products they manufacture, but also by dealing with a British manufacturing company. I feel very heartened by this.

British manufacturing is alive and very well indeed. We just need more of it!

All the companies I visited have worked with UK Trade & Investment. Pentagon Chemicals has done so for eight years and export to a range of markets, including Japan, South Africa, China, India, South America and Australia. Gen II has consulted with us on the feasibility of providing training and support for the new nuclear build projects in the UAE. You can see a short video blog of my trip to these two companies. I hope you enjoy it.

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