X-Cel Superturn takes pride in doing things differently – but that’s not just for fun.
“It’s no good standing still. What you did last year isn’t good enough this year. You have got to be much better,” says Andrew Taylor.
“If you have been asked to make a valve blank, some people will do it the way they have always made it, but machines and techniques have improved and, instead of doing it on one type of machine, it may be better now to do it on another.”
Staying alive to those possibilities has benefits when it comes to new challenges, too, because it means you are better equipped to meet them.
“There’s a lot of imagination needed in the way you approach a new job and the technical challenges,” says Mr Taylor, and there is the added benefit of the increased job satisfaction that shop floor operators get from getting a job to run more quickly.
Continual improvement also means continual investment.
“You can walk around some engineering companies that haven’t bought a machine for 50 years, but you have got to have consistent investment in new, advanced equipment. We have spent £1.5 million in the last 12 months on new equipment,” says Mr Taylor, who is also alive to the need to invest in people.
“If you want people with the right skills, you can find them. They are out there, but we have also taken on apprentices and that is how I see recruitment going.
“It’s pointless me nicking employees off other firms and them nicking them off me.
“There are skill gaps today because no-one has been hiring or training during the last 20 years. We have got to keep adding to the stock of experienced people and that means taking on graduate engineers and apprentices.”
Bakewell-born Andrew Taylor has no doubts that Sheffield is the best place for the bulk of his business to be.
“We have always made the more complex components –we do the technologically challenging stuff.
“Sheffield is a great place to do any sort of technical business,” says Mr Taylor.
“The level of skills you have here, in manufacturing, in heat treatment and in testing are second to none and Sheffield is particularly good on exotic materials.” Five years ago, his company bought a business in India, but then sold it three years later, even though it was profitable.
“We started making smaller components out in India,” says Mr Taylor.
“On the face of it, labour was particularly cheap, but you had to pay for everything up front and, at the time, I realised the English economy was getting better and the money would be far better invested in the UK.
“Had we got unlimited reserves, we would still be in India, but it was better investing our money here.”