The Company:

The business was founded by owner Duncan Rutter in 2015 after using capital from selling shares in a windows company he had previously established. Duncan established Think Aluminium after wanting to branch out to further develop his ideas surrounding the production of low volume but high specification products instead of the high-volume offerings which dominate the fenestration market.

Designing his own range of extruded aluminium window profiles, Duncan was able to have dialogue with a major UK supplier of door and window systems which resulted in investment into his designs.

Think Aluminium still produce these designs along with a complete range of high specification products, including the latest bi-folding and sliding doors, plus casement and ‘tilt-n-turn’ windows. The company also specialises in complex designs and irregular-shaped frames for barn conversions or glazed gable ends.

The Challenge:

The new business was suitably financed initially, but locating an affordable local factory with kerb appeal, access for large supplier vehicles, sufficient working height space, ample lighting levels and a pleasant working environment was no easy task.

However, the biggest challenge facing Think Aluminium was not about locating the right premises or generating business – it was in finding the right quality of suitably-qualified employees to join the team.

Duncan and his original works manager decided to set up their own internal training scheme to train new employees to their high standards in conjunction with an integrated training course through an industry body. But with this came the fresh challenge of a strain on time management and outgoings related to dedicated training time facing a new company.

The Solution:

Assisted by an advisor attached to the Worcestershire Business Accelerator Programme, Duncan was assisted by an initial grant towards setting up costs as well as several hours of consultancy support through BizSmart.

Further funding from the Worcestershire County Council scheme allowed Think Aluminium to fast-track their growth by purchasing a CNC mitre saw which in turn gave the company an improved ability to expand its product line.

“We were greatly encouraged from the onset with the help and guidance from the Wyre Forest team in Kidderminster who were able to promote Think Aluminium towards an initial grant of £2,500 for new business development and setting up costs,” said director Ken Rutter.

“From this initial introduction at the Kidderminster office we had visits to the factory to see and view progress, and they were fully instrumental in putting us in touch with the team at Worcester who were also keen to engage suitable businesses into their Business Accelerator Programme.

“All throughout, our company was encouraged to consider what might best suit its progression and growth, and it was then that discussions took place towards improving both quality and output by the purchase of a CNC double mitre saw.”

“Normally, such a machine would be out of reach for a new business like Think Aluminium, but fortune favoured the brave, and a suitable reconditioned machine came on to the market at a cost of £26,000, instead of £100,000 for a new one.

“The grant available was 45% of the purchase price excluding VAT, thus the final sum made available was approximately £11k with the rest being raised by ourselves.”

The WBA programme is managed by Worcestershire County Council, and delivered by BizSmart Ltd.

The Results:

Support from Worcestershire County Council has allowed Think Aluminium to deliver huge benefits to its production process. The purchases made from the Business Support Programme grant directly improved the quality of cut materials by ensuring complex angular trimming is quick, precise, and computer controlled. This step change in quality has led to a rise in product demand and, in turn, the creation of two further jobs.

Forecasts currently suggest an annual turnover increase from £120,000 to £220,000 over the next two years. Further increases in efficiency levels could achieve a £263,000 turnover, thereby significantly improving profitability from £13,000 to £78,000 by 2020.

“We now look forward to a great 2018,” said Ken.“A big thank you to the Worcestershire County Council BizSmart team in recognising our potential, and then speedily assisting us through the process of the grant application, it’s approval, and finally the funding.”

For more information on Worcestershire Business Accelerator, please contact the Worcestershire Business Central team on 01905 677888 or email info@business-central.co.uk

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