Business bosses take on new role as co-chairmen of UK manufacturing collective

A UK manufacturing collective has welcomed two business leaders as co-chairmen.

Peter Davies, CEO of Smethwick-based James Lister & Sons, and Austin Owens, managing director of Grove Designs in Leominster, have jointly taken the helm at the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN).

The organisation works together to win new contracts and share best practice.

Now Peter and Austin will work together to oversee the continued recovery and expand the capabilities of the group even further.

Their appointment come as MAN sets its sights on a £10 million sales boost after seven of its nine members reported being back to or above pre-covid levels.

It has secured a string of contracts across the automotive, electronics, medical and renewables sectors following the easing of lockdown.

Now 40 new jobs are expected to be created, and plans are in place to invest £2.5 million on increasing 3D printing capability, robotics and high-speed presses.

Peter said: “The majority of our companies have recovered from the economic shock of Covid-19 quicker than many of us expected.

“We have adapted the way we work, and it has been a learning curve, but I think it shows the resilience of industry and how we can pivot to continue to supply our customers whilst also keeping our staff safe.”

He added: “Our focus now is on supporting members who are still below pre-pandemic volumes and looking at how we can harness the power of MAN to achieve new efficiencies and, importantly, target new opportunities.”

The Manufacturing Assembly Network, which employs more than 1,750 people across 13 different factories, can offer every engineering discipline imaginable – from aluminium casting and plastic injection moulding to PCB development and precision machining.

Its membership includes West Midlands firms Alucast, Barkley Plastics, Brandauer, C-MAC SMT, Kimbermills International and Walsall-based PP Control & Automation as well as Grove Design and James Lister & Sons.

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Austin Owens, founder of Grove Design, said: “Disruption from the pandemic and ongoing supply chain issues is driving a shift in procurement and there does seem to be a greater appetite to use a cohesive group of companies that offer a single-source solution – something MAN is perfectly set-up for.

“Other priorities for this year will be leveraging strong relationships with academia to push the R&D conversation further and the option of bringing in new members, but only if there is a good strategic fit.”

He added: “I’m personally very keen to increase the diversity of talent we have in engineering and MAN will continue to run our Design & Make Day to encourage young people to consider a career in industry.”

BusinessLive – West Midlands