North Lincs Structures Ltd was established in 1993 and erects steel structures such as factories and farm outbuildings, amongst others. The company is a family run firm and offers a design and build service for the erection of steel structures and this also includes dealing with planning applications. The business has 17.5 FTE staff and has been looking to grow over the last year.
Business needs at initial contact
The business had never accessed business support before, and was unaware of the variety of business support, advice and funding that was available. The company purchased some land in 2018 with a view to expansion and to this end, contacted the North Lincolnshire Council economic development department, which assigned Humber Growth Hub business advisor Mike Lister to the enquiry. Mike met with the business owners and it soon became evident that their growth plans were substantial; with the potential for up to 8 new jobs to be created to service the company’s growth needs.
What the Growth Hub agreed to do with the business
Advisor Mike Lister met with company directors Michael and Barbara Harness to carry out a business needs diagnostic. This identified the following business needs:
o Financial support toward the build of the new factory extension and associated plant and machinery
o Support to develop the workforce in light of the substantial changes to the company posed by the expansion plan
o Support to improve the company’s accreditations to underpin quality assurance
o Assistance to research possible support with energy efficient to ensure that the new factory expansion would be as energy efficient as possible to assist overhead cost control.
The support that took place
o Mike signposted the company to various sources of finance to help with the expansion build costs and plant and machinery. Mike is also supporting the company to apply for a capital grant from the Humber LEP ‘Growing the Humber’ grant scheme, which will allow the company to better manage its cashflow during this period of growth and will also possibly allow future investment to be brought forward.
o Mike referred the company to the local Skills Support for the Workforce (SSW) Programme which allowed a comprehensive training needs analysis and training plan to be put in place. The main focus of SSW training support has been on the upskilling of the existing workforce and director team to better help them manage the growth stage of the company.
o Mike brokered contact and held a joint meeting with the company and the Manufacturing Growth Programme Humber Manager Neil Harriman to carry out an assessment into the company’s accreditation needs in more detail, and grant funding support from the MGP may be forthcoming to support the company further with this.
o Mike helped to company to research LED lighting suppliers and this has been installed in the existing building and is slated to be installed in the new extension. Mike also brokered contact with the Smart Energy ‘energy & resource efficiency’ programme to allow the company to have an energy audit carried out in order to maximise efficiencies by having an energy management plan drawn up, which again will help to control overhead costs and reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
Outcomes that were achieved
Mike Lister continues to support the business, and the support provided during 2018-19 has laid solid groundwork for the company to complete its factory expansion in the near future (expected summer 2019). For a company that have never accessed funded business support before, the company directors have been impressed with the helpful and ‘wrap-around’ nature of the Growth Hub’s support, and the knowledge possessed by advisor Mike Lister regarding other business support schemes and funds. Without Growth Hub support, it is likely that the company would have missed out on some if not all of the other support schemes it has accessed with Mike’s help, such as the Humber LEP Growing the Humber grant scheme, the Skills Support for the Workforce Programme, the Manufacturing Growth Programme, and the Smart Energy scheme. This case study therefore demonstrates the value and effectiveness of the Growth Hub in being that ‘one point of contact’ for businesses in the region, helping them to explore, navigate and obtain the wealth and breadth of other, specialist business support, advice and funding that is available to them to help with their growth ambitions.