Made in Sheffield: helping small firms stand tall

Made in Sheffield chairman Charles Turner, right, with Nathan Orton on the grinding machine at Durham Duplex.
Made in Sheffield chairman Charles Turner, right, with Nathan Orton on the grinding machine at Durham Duplex.
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How does a little company get noticed in a big world?

Social media? It’s free, but building followers is a very time consuming and lengthy process.

Made in Sheffield chairman Charles Turner with a cutting edge product.

Made in Sheffield chairman Charles Turner with a cutting edge product.

By concentrating on its website? Only five per cent of people click past the first page of a Google search, so you need to be well up the rankings - and to get there is time consuming AND costly.

Charles Turner, chairman of the Made in Sheffield organisation, has another answer: “be part of something that is world famous.”

He said: “We have been gifted by history this marvellous brand name and we should take full advantage of it.

“If you are at a trade show, it brings people to your stand. People come up to talk to you because they either recognise the logo or they know Sheffield’s reputation.

Made in Sheffield chairman Charles Turner and The Star's business editor David Walsh agree the link up in May.

Made in Sheffield chairman Charles Turner and The Star's business editor David Walsh agree the link up in May.

“I see it week in, week out. Food and drink companies use it to sell locally and emphasise their credentials. Manufacturing firms want to sell nationally and internationally and that guarantee of quality is valuable.

“It gives you a brand, you are up there with Forgemasters, Liberty Speciality Steels and The Floow.

“Suddenly you are part of something world famous.”

Mr Turner also walks the walk. He is boss of Durham Duplex, a Sheffield machine knife and industrial blade company that has three factories - including one in Thailand - and employs 84 in the city and a total of 100 around the world.

He and the sales team travel the globe attending trade shows and meeting companies. And the Made in Sheffield membership is key.

“We are having a good year, we’re well received at shows and sales are growing.”

Founded in the US, the Durham-Duplex Razor Blade Company Ltd was registered in the UK in 1910 and a factory was set up in Sheffield, where it has been ever since.

The company was purchased by Edward Turner and Son Ltd in 1974 and the name was shortened to Durham-Duplex Ltd.

The Noughties heralded another period of growth under Charles Turner, with the company adding a full machine knife factory in Sheffield and focusing on exports, which are 45 per cent of business today.

“Everyone in the UK has touched something I have cut at least three times today. From your bread, to your clothes to your carpet to your business cards.

“Sheffield built its reputation on cutting edges and that has been retained.

It is still a massive manufacturing centre and is very good at knives.”

LINK UP WITH THE STAR IS DRIVING MEMBERSHIP

“The Star has helped to raise the profile of Made in Sheffield and led to an upturn in numbers.”

Charles Turner says membership has reached 400 after weekly features in the paper since May.

As chairman, he is one of the board members who inspect would-be badge holders, inspecting factories and talking to staff. Membership must be renewed every two years, adding further work to a busy schedule.

“We get applications from all sectors of manufacturing. Earning the accreditation creates a real feeling of pride in Sheffield manufacturers. If you can show you are from Sheffield, with its protected reputation, why not sign up?”