With the support from the GC Business Growth Hub and Bury Council, Crossfield Excalibur take a bold step to invest for the future
“When it comes to finding the right people to talk to about a specific field, it can be challenging to figure out where to start. I suggest reaching out to the BGH and speaking with their account manager. This way, they can have a holistic look at the situation, better understand your business, and offer tailored solutions for staffing, training, and maintaining a strong team.”
- Steve Davies, Managing Director of Crossfield Excalibur
After surviving the onslaught of the pandemic with the support from the Bury Council and the government’s furlough scheme in early 2020, Steve Davies and his team at Crossfield Excalibur made a bold step in the bleak hour for business. They decided to speed up their company's reform by investing heavily during the pandemic.
While no one knows when the challenges the pandemic brought will end, Steve and his team have the conviction that there will be a turnaround. GC Business Growth Hub (BGH) provided full support for Crossfield Excalibur on their journey.
Let’s hear the story of Crossfield Excalibur’s journey from Steve Davies here.
What important business decisions did you have to make after March 2020?
Our company used to make cases and boxes for storage, but that division was losing business even before the pandemic. We had plans to shift our focus to powder coating, but due to the pandemic’s impact on the fabricated case business, we decided to speed up the process. We sold the machinery for the old division, used our cash reserves, and took out a loan to invest in a new plant and machinery for the powder coating division. By getting rid of all the old equipment, we were able to double the size of the powder coating facility with brand-new, state-of-the-art machinery.
This investment is crucial for our continued growth, especially as we navigate through the challenges of COVID. We are confident that these improvements will help propel our business forward and position us for success in the future.
What other investments have you made?
Upgrading our IT system is an ongoing process for us. During the pandemic, we reviewed our existing system and found that it was not capable of handling our daily operations and the requirements of our customers. Martin helped us to apply for a Manufacturing Growth Fund Grant to help us to upgrade our computer hardware to better utilise the most up to date versions of our software, such as Computer-aided design (CAD) software for designing tooling and viewing customer products in online meetings, as we continue our journey towards more paperless working and carbon reduction (through more use of online meetings vs physical visits to client’s premises), improving our use of IT for achieving sales and processing orders.
We are currently searching for further software upgrades that can better suit our business needs. Martin suggested we reach out to the Made Smarter Team, who have reviewed our current set up and determined that our CRM/MRP software is not up to par. They are currently analysing our system to find an alternative that will future-proof our business for years to come. This upgrade will provide us with improved forecasting, stock control, and gross margin analysis for all our work, ultimately saving us time and protecting our jobs.
We are also currently in the process of redesigning our website to showcase our recent developments more effectively. Although our current website has been helpful, we recognise the need for an update. We have enlisted the help of Nathan Miles, an experienced website producer from BGH, to assist us in this process.
We are excited about the upcoming changes, which will highlight our expanding powder coating capabilities, including our equipment, machinery, and capacity to handle larger components. Additionally, it will showcase the capabilities of our design department in providing full design services for rotational moulding products. Our goal is to provide a one-stop-shop experience where customers can approach us with a concept, and we will create a solution that includes product, tool, equipment, and powder coating services if required.
What kind of measures has the company taken to safeguard and cultivate their employees?
These days, it is a huge challenge to find skilled workers, especially since many of them are older and nearing retirement. Most of our current workforce is aged between 45 and 62. We’re struggling to find capable sheet metal workers who we can train to become rotational toolmakers. we’ve decided to create our own training programs to develop skilled workers and fill the gaps left by retiring employees.
We have decided to start an apprentice in the steel division. Suzanne McNicholas has guided us through every step of the application and managed to find us a levy match to help fund the training of our new apprentice.We also utilised the Kick start scheme to give a young person an opportunity in the Powder Coating division. Jo Caine helped us ensure the application process was completed accurately and efficiently to avoid any delays.
Besides the training programme created to attract new members, we are also concerned about the mental well-being of our existing workforce during the pandemic, as they are experiencing a rapid change in our company’s business development, which inevitably affects their way of work.
Felicity Brown, a young lady working for the hub as the workplace health and well-being provider, gave us a different perspective on how to look after our team, particularly with the pandemic affecting personnel in ways we could not have imagined at the start of 2020. One of the key elements is what we call the EAP (Employee Assistance Programme). All the staff have been provided with a confidential line they can call up if they are experiencing mental health issues. Afterwards, the team will provide confidential assistance to the staff if required. We found the EAP system invaluable, and it was a simple scheme to implement for a minimal cost per month.
To achieve success in running a company, it is vital to start with hard work and training from the top and filter it down to each team. To ensure that we are working at the highest level, our management team has enrolled in the EDP program headed by Sean Bowman. Sean has reviewed our current skills and developed an excellent program to enhance our managerial skills. This will enable us to manage our growth effectively, stay at the top of our game, and set clear and achievable goals that we can test ourselves against in the coming months and years.
Our management training has been very beneficial in helping us manage our business growth. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our sales have increased by 16% compared to this time last year. The training has helped us understand how to handle this growth and put it into a workable plan. As a result, we now have the largest order book we’ve had since before the pandemic.
What is the next step for the Crossfield Excalibur?
We are still in the process of upgrading our software and are actively searching for a suitable CRM and MRP system. Due to the complexity of our company’s profile, we may need to develop our bespoke system rather than find an off-the-shelf solution that fits our needs.
We’re excited to announce that our design department is partnering with Bury College to offer T-Level students the opportunity to work with us and gain valuable experience in the rotational moulding industry. Throughout this process, we’ll be able to assess their ability to handle the manufacturing and design of components. Upon completion of their training and qualification, we hope to offer these students a place in our design department to help us expand our company.
“I have had the privilege of working with the BGH since 2018 and have found their team to be nothing short of phenomenal. The wealth of talent and knowledge they possess is truly amazing and has helped me develop both personally and professionally. I am grateful for their support and look forward to continuing our partnership in the future.”
If you had to describe the BGH in one sentence, it would be:
“A collective intelligence of down to earth and highly driven people.”
- Steve Davies, Managing Director of Crossfield Excalibur