Businesses encouraged to grow closer to home

Successful businesses who have established their brand nationally and internationally are being encouraged to look closer to home as they continue to grow.

County Durham Engineering and Manufacturing Network (CDEMN) is working with companies in the area to look at their neighbours as potential customers.

Many of the network’s members are established firms who export their products and services nationwide and overseas, however many aren’t exploiting the opportunities on their doorstep.

Operations Director at CDEMN, Ben Gilhespy, has seen a recurring theme among engineering and manufacturing companies in County Durham who are now realising they could be missing out on contracts because they’re not casting their net in their immediate vicinity.

Ben said: “It’s fantastic that so many of our members are successful exporting their products, whether that’s elsewhere in the country or abroad.

“However, the feedback we’re getting from many of them is that they’re not working with those companies closer to home, in many cases their neighbours, when actually there’s work there for the taking.

“A big priority for businesses is to source suppliers locally, so there’s a massive opportunity to secure new work right here in the county. What business wouldn’t want to source a product or service from their neighbour if they can rather than paying to have it transported which can take days.

“It’s a real priority for us and something that is a key theme on our events agenda as we look towards 2018.”

One of the companies CDEMN is working with is Martel Instruments in Tanfield Lea, who were the subject of a management buyout with the support of Maven Capital Partners in 2007. As manager of the £20million Finance Durham Fund and one of the UK’s leading private equity houses, Maven are able to provide a range of flexible funding packages to engineering and manufacturing businesses in the County.

Martel employs 31 people and supplies custom printing equipment to companies internationally, however is keen to grow its portfolio of regional clients.

Colin Proudfoot said: “Our products are shipped to customers across the country and around the world, however we know there are companies much closer to home we could be supplying to.

“We really need to raise awareness of our products to our neighbours and let them know we’re here. Growing regionally is just as important to our business as growing nationally and internationally.”

CDEMN is planning to host a series of events in the new year which will focus on doing business closer to home.

Ben added: “The support we offer our members is very much tailored to their feedback, and the local supply chain is definitely a hot topic right now.

“By supporting County Durham companies to look closer to home for the products and services they need to outsource, it will have a hugely positive impact on our economy and future growth.”

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