Export boost proves key to Rotherham firm’s success

Deputy PM Nick Clegg tours the MTL Factory at Brinsworth with managing director Dr Shirman.
Deputy PM Nick Clegg tours the MTL Factory at Brinsworth with managing director Dr Shirman.
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MTL is the kind of company the Government is desperate to see more of.

The Rotherham steel engineering firm has built up export sales from very little in 2006 to 40 per cent this year and is targeting 50 per cent.

It also has a healthy apprentice programme - 33 out of a total of 380 staff working in a modern factory.

And it is largely the author of its own success, according to managing director Dr Henry Shirman, who hosted deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on a recent visit.

He said: “We put a lot of effort and investment into travelling worldwide and we now export to 40 countries - we have done what the Government wanted companies to do. And we have done most of it ourselves.

“We recognised that we couldn’t rely on the UK market for manufactured products to give us growth. Now we are a global company with global customers.

“We want to increase exports and 50 per cent would be a good goal.”

The Government has a target of £1 trillion annual exports by 2020.

MTL Group is a contract manufacturing company. Its head office in Rotherham consists of 300,000sq ft. of manufacturing facility set in a 30-acre site.

Dr Shirman gave Nick Clegg a guided tour of the premises, demonstrating the company’s £750,000 investment in high technology equipment, most recently in new robotic welding equipment following the success of a multi-million pound order for armoured hulls.

In September last year the firm won a contract to supply fabricatead and painted hulls to an armoured vehicle manufacturer. Key to the contract and others with customers in the defence, recycling and off-highway sectors is the firm’s ‘Design for Manufacture’ service.

It takes an original design and reviews it, aiming to reduce weight, improve protection and cut costs.

Mr Clegg visited MTL after officially opening the new offices of manufacturers’ organisation EEF, on the doorstep of the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The offices at Advantage House, on Poplar Way, Catcliffe, will be its new regional headquarters and “underlines its commitment to manufacturing in the region.”
Nick Clegg said: “British manufacturing is a great news story not just in South Yorkshire, but across the wider UK economy.

“There is a real sense of optimism emerging, albeit cautiously, about the future.”

Terry Scuoler, EEF chief executive, said he was pleased: “Sheffield and the Yorkshire and Humber region have a rich history and reputation for producing goods that are valued around the world. Our new offices provide a link between that strong legacy and modern manufacturing.

“More importantly, however, this move signifies our belief in the important contribution manufacturing still has to make in the region.”