Meet the Sandwell businesses aiming for gold

For our final news article of 2021, we share the inspiring stories of Sandwell companies that have sought growth support from Sandwell Council โ€“ and see how they’ve used it to take their businesses forward.

Hewigo's laser machine with decorative fish logo
Hewigo’s new laser machine

‘Turnover has grown to record levels’

Aim for Gold (also known as A4G) is a business growth programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund. In Sandwell, our Business Growth Team members here at Think Sandwell are the people who deliver it.

One Sandwell business that has benefited from Aim for Gold support is Hewigo.

Based on Little Fields Way in Oldbury, Hewigo is the UK’s leading manufacturer of frying ranges for fish and chip shops. It has also supplied to Cyprus, China and Canada.

As we reported in our #MadeInSandwell Monday feature earlier this month, Hewigo was able to use Aim for Gold funding to modernise its production process, installing a laser-cutting machine in early 2019 which turned out to be a saviour during the pandemic.

Managing director Phillip Purkiss said: “Undoubtedly this machine was always going to make a big change to our business, but it has surpassed all our expectations. Without the support of A4G allowing us to make this investment, we could have easily fallen behind our competitors.”

Hewigo was able to continue manufacturing during the coronavirus lockdowns, putting the new machine to good use and helping the business maintain its strong market position. The resulting high turnover and growth have meant Hewigo is now expanding its workforce, and is actively looking to recruit new solidworks and machine operators, gas engineers and fabricators.

Phillip said: “Turnover has grown to record levels over the last two years. Now we have the best machines, we are on a mission to invest in the best workforce, creating new jobs for Sandwell.”

‘Positive changes’

Another Oldbury business to have benefited from Aim for Gold support through Think Sandwell is technology firm CSCM Ltd.

Thanks to Aim for Gold, the company moved to larger premises to support business growth, successfully rebranded โ€“ including with a fresh new logo โ€“ and completely overhauled its website.

Jenny Hodgkiss, head of projects and marketing said: “The support we received from start to finish from the Think Sandwell team was outstanding and the funding received made a huge difference to CSCM.”

“So far 2021 has been positive for CSCM and its new image has really helped to raise its profile, with its new website successfully attracting its target market.”

Jenny added: “The money we received from ERDF enabled us to really make positive changes for the better of the company as opposed to making small changes over a long period of time. We chose to utilise the funding to completely invest in the project and update our image and re-design our branding, based on our target market.”

You can read all about CSCM Ltd’s success in our #MadeInSandwell Monday feature from earlier this month.

Smiling toolmakers at A&M EDM
Toolmakers at A&M EDM in Smethwick

‘We have created eleven new engineering jobs’

Precision engineering firm A&M EDM in Smethwick is a mainstay of our news pages, achieving successes all year round, from prestigious awards to a Thrive at Work accolade.

A&M EDM provides rapid response engineering solutions, manufacturing precision components and production assembly tooling. Its 60 spark and wire erosion and CNC milling machines manufacture essential components for many sectors – including aerospace, automotive and motorsports.

A&M has worked closely with our Think Sandwell Business Growth Team over the past decade. Back in 2014 it accessed Regional Growth Funding to assist the purchase of second 40,000 square foot factory. This was a pivotal investment in growth, enabling the company to triple its sales and double the workforce to 70 employees within five years.

In partnership with the Think Sandwell team, A&M successfully applied for Growing Priority Sectors grants in 2017 and 2018. The grants enabled A&M to increase its productivity and manufacturing capacity by investing in two new spark eroders, a five-axis machining centre and alloy measurement preventative maintenance equipment.

Mark Wingfield, managing director of A&M said: “A&M value our excellent relationship with Think Sandwell; the Growing Priority Sectors grants enabled us to accelerate our investment in equipment to increase our capabilities to customers and create eleven new engineering jobs.”

More testimonials from Sandwell businesses:

Andy, Debbie, Tracey, Gary & Walter of Howells Glazing
Andy Street, Mayor for the West Midlands (second left), with Debbie, Tracey, Gary and Walter of Howells Glazing

“As a Black Country manufacturing company, we task ourselves with innovating our product lines every year to keep ahead of trends and thermal efficiency for our customers. We were contacted by Sandwell Council about the Aim for Gold grant, and this led us to enquire whether it could be used to help us to realise our new product design aspirations. We spoke directly to the person handling the project for Sandwell Council and they were both knowledgeable and extremely helpful in understanding the parameters of this grant. They held our hand through the process and kept us informed of the stages, when the panel were meeting and finally when the green light to proceed happened.

“This did not end their support though, they were still on hand to help us understand deadlines, deviations, and contract terms. The forms were explained, when necessary, and they ensured that we had complied with the requirements of the grant. If there were queries, they were communicated in layman’s terms in how to resolve them. A very positive experience overall.”
– Tracey Jackson, Howells Glazing, Cradley Heath

“Although the process was long and complicated it was well worth it, the grant has led the company to secure more work. Going forward the company’s turnover is set to grow.”
– A1 Powder Coaters, West Bromwich

“The funding towards this project will help immensely financially, giving us the capability to grow with added security to our employees and customers. The new system will enable us to work more effectively ensuring our customers get the best service at all times. With the anticipated growth of Keytracker this should create more job vacancies from apprentices to more experienced job roles giving the opportunities for internal promotions.

“The support of Sandwell [Council] has been continual over the years and we really appreciate all of the advice received, helping us to be the best in our field with our new and improved innovative systems whilst continuing to maintain our full range of key and asset management products.

“The last few years have been very worrying for many companies, without the funding opportunities many may not have been able to pull through and continue to trade. Once again, thank you for your support.”
Karen Thacker, Keytracker, Rowley Regis

To find out more about available business growth opportunities, go to our frequently updated Access to finance and Growing your business pages.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks regarding the coronavirus pandemic, Think Sandwell will be here to support you in 2022. We wish you and your team a very merry Christmas. Thank you for reading!