EVERY skilled curtain maker has hidden depths.
Just ask Nicola Boyd, whose Yorkshire-based firm has secured work to provide protective jackets for boilers at a nuclear power station.
The family-run curtain-maker from Castleford is on course to employ 30 staff after switching its focus from retailing to manufacturing.
Nationwide Curtain Makers, which two years ago employed just six people, used to make and sell curtains and blinds from two shops.
The scale and scope of the business has grown, thanks to advice and support from the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP).
The company has changed its business model, moved into a new 5,500 sq ft manufacturing facility and produces curtains that are used in the changing rooms of high-street stores and hotel bedrooms.
The wife and husband team of Nicola and Stephen Boyd, along with son James, have worked closely with external consultant Jeff Long to deliver a significant change in the company’s fortunes.
Although the company has retained the retail arm of its business, 70 per cent of its manufacturing output is now for commercial customers, including the likes of Marks & Spencer, the De Vere Hotels chain and even a nuclear power station.
Ms Boyd said that tapping into MGP opened the family’s eyes to the possibility that its real strength was in manufacturing.
She said: “The family have been involved in the industry for over 20 years, but it’s only since we started working with MGP over the last year that we have seen a dramatic change in our business, doubling our head count last year to 15 and we’re on course to double it again this year to 30.
“By thinking of ourselves as a manufacturer instead of a retailer, we have been able to develop the business and win commercial contracts, securing some high-profile projects in the process. We have also been commissioned for more unusual projects, such as protective fabric jackets for boilers at a nuclear power station and 3D fabric installations for exhibitions in Paris and Russia.
“None of this would have been possible without the support of MGP because they helped to develop the management skills and infrastructure needed to deliver the necessary changes in our business.”
MGP Manufacturing Growth Manager David Whiteley said that the business was an example of a company recognising that it had become too embroiled in day-to-day operations. External advice was helping it to realise its growth potential.
He said: “The Boyd family have been very receptive to all the advice and support available through MGP and the industry’s network of specialist consultants, such as Jeff, who have transformed the business, making it a big success story – not least because it has created more than 20 jobs in the last two years.” The Manufacturing Growth Programme, which is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Economic Growth Solutions (EGS), is helping to fill the void left by the Manufacturing Advice Service (MAS) by providing access to specialist advice to help manufacturers grow and improve.
The programme has an 18-strong network of experienced manufacturing growth managers, and access to industry specialists. There is also the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £3,500.
The support can be used for leadership and management, research and development, lean manufacturing, improvements to productivity and capacity, quality systems and supply chain development.