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Tailored management training puts Automotive Insulations in fast lane.

ANEW growth strategy for Rugby-based Automotive Insulations gave the company new goals, but tailored help from a government backed service has made sure the senior team is equipped to achieve them. Results have been exceptional, with record profits this year, brand new premises about to open and innovative plans for new projects in the pipeline.

The company specialises in designing, developing and manufacturing products which manage sound and temperature across the automotive, marine and industrial sectors. It manufactures its products in Britain, Sweden and Germany and operates internationally through clients including Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover and 3M. Half of its supplier spend is with businesses in Britain.

Originally founded 48 years ago to supply parts to the automotive industry, the company underwent a management buyout in 2006 which left it in need of direction and focus. Managing Director Jim Griffin struggled to identify a plan for growth. Despite a turnover of PS5 million, profitability was low and something clearly had to change.

Embarking on a programme with an investment bank in 2012 to create a new business strategy, Jim recognised that in order to breathe life into the plan, his team needed the right skills and mindset.

That is where GrowthAccelerator came into the frame. The Government-backed service matches experts in business to companies with high growth potential to provide a bespoke programme of coaching, connectivity, workshops and leadership training, all designed to help business owners and directors ensure their companies fulfil their potential.

Jim started working with manufacturing expert and GrowthAccelerator coach Clive Reynolds to put the changes recommended by the service into practice. Business development coaching combined with leadership and management training helped to bring greater focus, empowerment and enthusiasm to the senior team. Workshops and tailored one-to-one sessions identified and developed individual capabilities to help maximise effective management. Financefocused sessions also helped management without a financial background to embrace effective reporting and budgeting.

Jim says: "The team is now taking what they learnt and distilling this through their own teams to deliver market, product and geographical diversification."

Growth coach Clive Reynolds has had a major impact too. "He's allowed me to leave the day-to-day operations to others for the first time," says Jim. "He is my conscience on the management team. We don't always see eye to eye but that's good. We chat about where we're going and how we're doing. His wealth of experience is fantastic and I will continue to work with him."

Company growth has been impressive. With a turnover goal to reach PS41 million by 2017 it was critical that the service helped to deliver financial results too. Jim continues: "In 2011 our turnover was PS5 million. Two years later, we met forecasts of PS12 million but significantly, profits were our biggest since 1966 when the company first started trading. We are looking at PS15 million turnover and doubling profits this year. Our staff has grown from 40 to 120 too. Growth was coming but the sustainability and profitability of the business' growth is as a result of GrowthAccelerator's support."

Going forward in 2014, Automotive Insulations' investment of PS1.8 million in the new factory, equipment and new technology is set to reap rewards with production capacity already sold.

June will also see the opening of the company's brand new innovation centre in Rugby. Working in collaboration with local universities, projects will aim to research and develop new processes, materials and parts. The centre will provide employment for some existing company staff. There are plans to create jobs for graduates and apprentices in years to come.

Jim concludes: "GrowthAccelerator has had a huge impact on how we run the company and the positive effects on our growth are clear to see. I'd recommend the service to any small business looking to make the most of its potential."

Find out more ? Apprenticeships - More and more companies are hiring apprentices and harnessing available Government support.

Small Business Recruitment Service - Provides individual support plus advice about schemes such as wage incentives, youth contracts and the Work Choice programme.

UK Commission for Employment Skills - This is a good starting point for any company planning to develop its leadership and management skills.

ACAS - It pays to stay on top of employment laws and regulations. Free impartial advice for employers and employees can be obtained from ACAS.

Lead Inspirational leadership will drive a business forward, just as a lack of leadership will hold a business back.

The qualities that make a natural leader are different from those shown by some of the most effective managers. Sometimes it takes an objective view to recognise where the gaps are.

Business is GREAT helps individuals and companies raise their game, facilitating leadership and management training and business development master classes for executives and directors of small businesses.


Left: Jim Griffin, MD; Matthew Small of developers Hamdon Gate; Kevin Westwood, Operations Director, with Rugby MP, Mark Pawsey at the groundbreaking for the new site. Centre: <B Automotive Insulations' new headquarters under construction. The 65,000sq ft premises will be formally opened in June. Right: Manufacturing at Automotive Insulations' plant in Sweden

Automotive Insulations' Managing Director, Jim Griffin in the Rugby factory.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 17, 2014
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