How the major players discussed points of view

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Steve Lunn: “I used to do a lot of work in Newcastle. When I started talking with a Yorkshire accent they looked at me gone out. It definitely disturbed them that I wasn’t a Geordie. I think we would have a much healthier business community if we worked like that. I was looking at the Top 100 list of the region’s biggest companies, published by The Star, and I was horrified to see how many companies go to Leeds and Manchester for their insurance. In Sheffield, Arthur J Gallagher is the largest insurer for the steel industry. As part of a large group there’s a centralised policy for obtaining services, which I find quite annoying. But we support the city where we can – we are a friend of the Company of Cutlers.

Jane Robinson: “We are an engineering SME and there must be hundreds of laser companies between here and London but they come to us because of our marketing. But we neglect our own back yard. We are in Leeds and Sheffield city regions and we get overlooked by both. If we ever hear of an event it’s from Leeds. We were made freemen of the Company of Cutlers and I sit on the regional advisory board for the EEF but I never get invited to anything in Sheffield.”

Tan Khan: “Most of our business is national or international, but we have tried to maintain contact with our local community. Leadership needs to come from Sheffield City Council. They do have initiatives which give the impression that they are supporting ‘buy local’ but when it comes to prestigious projects like the retail quarter and The Crucible it was felt they should have a big name. The big boys have the ability to go for big bids, they are very good at the front end but delivery is from a small office with three or four people in it - we have nearly 100 staff in Sheffield. You have to be competent but there should be some kind of weighting towards local companies.”

Marie Cooper: “It’s knowing the companies available locally. How do we find them and how do we know we can rely on them? We discovered there was a foundry only a mile away from us only after we went to a trade show in Birmingham.”

Jane Robinson: “Some companies simply aren’t marketing themselves.”

Marie Cooper: “Some don’t have websites.”

Keith Williams: “How do you make those connections? There are some clear benefits, no doubt about that. It probably does need support.”

Paige Hudson: “We are working with Sheffield Council on meet-the-buyer events so it’s not so hard to get work locally. The council said they were determined to get local business but can’t find it. They want the contacts but aren’t willing to go out and get them.”

Andrew Marsh: “Barclays has a central buying function but I have a buy local policy wherever I can. We are members of the Company of Cutlers, we supported the Yorkshire International Business Convention and Made in Sheffield. I’m not sure if the way forward is a formalised process because there’s a great professional informal network in South Yorkshire. Clients expect my team to know who is good at what in the legal and accounting sector.”

Keith Williams: “We don’t have a formal policy but we make sure we buy from local suppliers in the areas in which we work.”

Amar Tembe: “Unless you get big players like the PCTs and local authorities to buy local it’s going to be very difficult for others to follow that down the supply chain.”

Tan Khan: “Leadership should come from a central source. Leeds and Manchester have created an atmosphere were you want to invest in them. As for Creative Sheffield - I don’t know who heads that and who are the key players and how I can take advantage of what they’re offering.

James Ashford: ‘There’s no excuse for any business to not get attention. From Twitter to Youtube. A lot of clients are blown around with the wind. We get them to re-focus on what they want.”

Marie Cooper: “We have gone from 75 per cent to 90 per cent export in the last three years. But 20 per cent of our suppliers are based in Sheffield City Region, millers and turners. They don’t have the skills to go out and get it. You are talking about middle-aged people who have been doing the same job for years. I can find an accountant and a lawyer, but it’s much harder if I want to sub-contract a milling machinist.”

James Ashford: “There’s still no excuse these days. You can get on an iPhone and train yourself in these skills, there are so many free tools that train you in how to get attention. There has never been a more level playing field for companies to promote themselves. There are all the tools for anyone to operate a world class business.”

Andrew Marsh: “Some people are very good. Hugh Facey at Gripple is outward facing and uses the tools available.”

Marie Cooper: “Our insurance company is in Leeds, that’s historical.”

Jane Robinson: “It’s the Leeds and London companies that come up on page one of Google – it requires education.”

Marie Cooper: “I can think of two occasions when we went outside of Sheffield. A database would help certain fields.”

Tan Khan: “There are gaps, I would like to see local authorities play a bigger role.”

James Ashford: “We use Google to buy services.”

Andrew Marsh: “There have never been so many resources or organisations available to help these businesses. We back 20 per cent of businesses in Sheffield City Region. We are being asked for local services all the time. When you engage with a bank you expect them to be informed about the professional sector, tax, insurance, corporate finance. It’s about how we put some of those other businesses together.”

Paige Hudson: “It’s intriguing to see that everyone wants to see the same thing. I’m quite proud that the Trades Hub is helping.”

Keith Williams: “I think there are some clear benefits for the recycling of money locally and also perhaps creating some new jobs. There are a lot of very good business networks but if we can get companies in general to think more about it everyone could benefit more.”