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Rapid growth for Northumberland manufacturer following £192,000 grant

Precision component and assemblies specialist, Rapid UK Engineering Services, has quadrupled its capacity and direct staff and more than doubled its premises to meet rising customer demand with the support of a £192,000 grant from the North of Tyne Growth Fund.

To rise to the opportunity presented by a global oil and gas customer that required the business to quadruple its capacity, Michael Lawson Works Manager and Director of Rapid UK Engineering turned to the North of Tyne Growth Fund (NTGF). The £4.6m investment programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and supported by the North of Tyne Combined Authority (NTCA).

Within 48 hours, Michael was writing a business plan and beginning the grant application to move the company from a 5,900 sq ft single-storey unit in Bedlington to a 14,500 sq ft two-storey unit in Cramlington, creating at least 27 new jobs in the process.

Michael explains: “We were challenged to increase from £1.1m to £4m turnover this coming financial year, by adding two more machines and a permanent night shift, bringing us to 2,112 manufacturing hours a week.

“This project will enable us to exceed that – we have bought eight machines and are on target to create more than 30 new jobs, bringing our direct staff to over 45. We’ll then have capacity for 2,688 hours per week, so with this infrastructure we should be able to reach £5.5m turnover in the next couple of years.”

The company has grown organically in the 12 years since its three founding directors Kevin Lazenby, Neil Elwell and Michael Lawson left the business they all worked at together to start up on their own. Rapid UK Engineering Services has now built a strong reputation for high-quality products and technical expertise, being relied on to solve complex problems for its oil and gas, renewables, rail and automotive customers.

For other companies thinking about making capital investments to help grow their business in the long-term, Michael recommends speaking with the North of Tyne Growth Fund team, which draws on the expertise of UMi project advisers and UNW LLP, a Newcastle-based chartered accountancy and business advisory firm, to guide applicants through the grant process.

Michael continues: “The team were fantastic and faultless, always there to give us advice and I’ve learned a lot through working with them.

“You’ve got to weigh up your business and challenge quite a lot to get to this point. We wouldn’t have got here without the funding and support. We didn’t have the cash flow or the profit and loss-sensitised confidence within the project to go for it without the grant.

“We probably could have expanded, but not as quickly as the customer wanted, which wouldn’t have won us the work. We had to question ourselves whether we really wanted to risk 12 years of hard work and people’s jobs to get just a little bit bigger. We would have had to walk away from it without the support.”

The company is now well-placed to respond to increasing demand caused by market changes that have seen large manufacturers shifting to a global outsourcing model, which Michael believes will become the norm. The team are already receiving further enquiries with similar opportunities.

Despite a challenging economic landscape for all manufacturers, Rapid UK Engineering Services is in a strong position to capitalise on the opportunities available. With lessons learned from this expansion, the company has increased confidence in being able to replicate its success for future growth.

Elected Metro Mayor, Jamie Driscoll, said: “This is what it's all about: creating new jobs and supporting local businesses. We're glad we could help Rapid UK Engineering - and wish them well for the future."

Mike Baker, Senior Project Manager of the North of Tyne Growth Fund, added: “The team at Rapid UK Engineering Services have worked so hard to quadruple their capacity with a new building and huge increase in staff alongside maintaining their existing operations – it’s no mean feat. We are delighted for them and look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength with their enhanced infrastructure. We invite companies that have similar ambitions to get in touch to see how we can support your capital investment projects.”

Lara Marshall, Grant Support Services Manager at UNW, said: “The funding scheme is there to help aspiring businesses grow and in the face of rising customer demand, Rapid UK Engineering Services have used the support to set themselves up for the future, ensuring they are ready to win new work and enabling them to continue to cement their reputation in an increasingly challenging marketplace.”


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