The Midlands economy is going from strength to strength in the UK. Outperforming the rest of the county since 2010 (according to thebusinessdesk.com) from my experience of working in manufacturing sales in both the South East and the West Midlands I can certainly see truth in this statistic.
With a strong and powerful manufacturing base, when the UK manufacturing heartland does well, the rest of the country seems to follow eventually. Since the last recession, one of the ways the region has fuelled it’s growth is by getting really good at export and focusing on the industries in which it has true expertise, automotive, aerospace, healthcare, energy and advanced manufacturing ( The Guardian Jon Card Thursday 27 November 2015) In these industries the way is led by the huge OEM’s with homes here, such as JLR and UTC, but in my opinion what makes the West Midlands manufacturing great is the thousands of SME’s that have sprung up to service the huge OEM powerhouses.
While the OEM’s invest huge amounts of money and take their time over pain staking decisions, the SME’s of the West Midlands (some only 2 guys in a shed with a welding machine) work painstakingly on being efficient, flexible and cutting edge in order to win business and find a place in the tier supply chain to the OEM’s. This means when you arrive in the West Midlands you don’t just arrive at one huge international juggernaut of a company, you arrive in a region with an incredible skill base of thousands of people who know what it means to supply a world class manufacturer, and in many cases that makes them world class manufacturers too.
To the OEM’s, exporting is no big deal. I believe our SME’s in the West Midlands need to continue to embrace the export markets too, in the belief that they can compete with other “low cost” manufacturing bases across the world. UK manufacturers can compete on more than price, with fantastic facilities, flexibility, dedication and generations of people who live and breathe manufacturing, setting them apart from international competitors.
By continuing to have confidence and investing in understanding export markets more fully, this will enable manufacturers to ride out the inevitable storms that come with recessions in the UK.
I’m biased of course, but the West Midlands is a great place to manufacture, let’s keep it that way! What do you think are the other important steps for SME’s in the West Midlands? We’d like to hear from you.
Rebecca Shaw, email@example.com
Rebecca Shaw is an up and coming on-line entrepreneur and product development specialist, brand owner of “Kingsman” and “Radiant Life” brands. SME sales and marketing business consultant, strongly invested in “Made in the UK” products. Property Developer, focused on single BTL market Travel enthusiast and blogger on “Travelling with Freedom”