Wynyard-based company takes the overall Manufacturing Award at the grand final, in recognition of it’s recent expansion, capabilities and success.
Made For Trade has been announced as the winner of the overall Manufacturing Award at the 2022 North East Business Awards grand final; reflecting the company’s growth, investment and impressive manufacturing capabilities that have been so well documented across the last 12 months.
The Manufacturing Award has a wide-ranging scope, with the main aim being to highlight those companies across the North East of England that have impressed the judging panel via their demonstration of manufacturing excellence, alongside attributes such as design and innovation, quality, efficiency and sales flair.
When deciding which of the top manufacturing organisations in the region to take home the coveted prize, judges looked not just at the company’s capacity and output in the direct sense, but also how it extends into the local region. Factors such as investment in equipment and of course people were carefully considered, as well as sales performance and how the business is looking to set its strategy for the future. That strategy includes not only manufacturing innovation, growth prospects and sales, but also key attributes such as sustainability, markets served and the continuous development of efficiency and productivity.
One factor that helped Made For Trade stand out from the award competition proved to be the relatively unique position of being both a design and fabrication outfit in one efficient organisation – something that has proved to be pioneering in the fenestration industry. When it comes to glazing outfits, the products have progressed but the manufacturing technology and engineering has remained relatively stagnant; the predominant model is of large organisations developing products and supplying parts to fabricators, who in turn supply their customers.
Made For Trade however encompasses the full timeline, from initial design through to in-house delivery – all for the benefit of efficiency, improving quality and reducing cost. MFT stands out from competitors thanks to its progression from a small installer and fabricator, to a manufacturing outfit bringing revolutionary techniques and processes to the industry, helping to fuel growth and invest in a well-trained local workforce. The engineering division features experience from the automotive and motorsport sectors; bringing a new level of precision not only to the product design, but also the manufacturing processes to elevate the fenestration products to a completely new level against the competition.
The company is proud of its history: founded by Richard Gaunt in 1979 as Aanco and gaining significant credibility in the area from the outset thanks to its reputation for quality and service, Made For Trade remains a family business led by Richard’s sons Bradley as Managing Director, and Ashley as Technical Director. Last year saw the business grow with a turnover increase of 31%, and whilst Made for Trade remains B2B, the drive to increase homeowner interaction has seen MFT’s Korniche brand become synonymous with desirable glazing products – to the extent that it is now requested by name to trade installers.
Now operating from three purpose-built fabrication units with more than 250,000 sqft and employing more than 150 highly trained operatives, Made for Trade continues to invest in growth; with a quarter of pre-tax profits being put towards new assets, from facilities to state of the art CNC equipment. Investing in staff has gone hand-in-hand – training helped 57% of operators move up a grade and back the local workforce, whilst recruitment has been filled with a mix of external talent and in-house promotion – all factors that were paramount when judges considered the Manufacturing Award shortlist.
The drive to simplify production and reduce inventory led to an investment of nearly £1M back in 2019 and 2020 on machinery to support the new product, whilst in-house software was developed to improve CNC sequencing, reduce waste and costly machine time. The Korniche bi-folding door for example, was designed and developed completely by the in-house engineering team before being manufactured alongside at the same Wynyard site, with a number of unique and innovative features that set it apart from the competition. From the patented ‘Speedbead’ and anti-backdrive handle, to the built-in ventilation and sealed roller bearing guides, no rivals came close for the same engineering focus that relies on quality manufacture.
The last two years have been unlike any other for UK businesses, and MFT’s strategy for dealing with this tumultuous timeframe also impressed the panel, as the manufacturing business overcame significant supply chain challenges and industry issues to sell 32,000 units in 2021 alone. From pre-emptive stock increases and rapidly leveraging new suppliers, to modifying components to suit, Made for Trade continued to excel in what were unique times for the entire industry, coming out the other side with an enviable reputation alongside record sales.
The judging panel also looked at future manufacturing plans; a factor that differentiated MFT via continuous improvement plus investment in new technology and people to push the manufacturing process forward in the most efficient manner. Made For Trade is set to grow to a £45-50M turnover through commercial focus and vertical integration and in excess of £1M is again being invested in bespoke machinery for the production line, whilst the team are exploring a future that involves in-house glass manufacture to create a true one-stop shop.
That investment is not just mean on the factory floor though; in the office the company’s Kwikquote software is being further developed to streamline customer experience and go hand-in-hand with market-leading customer service, whilst an increase in regional presence and branding pushes the focus forwards. Sustainability is a key watchword; MFT is already setting the standard against rivals via the use of new packaging, whilst environmental and safety standards are also set to be further improved via gap analysis and investment. That sustainability extends to supply chain excellence; in-house glass delivery has disrupted the market norm of separate frame and glass drops, adding a unique selling point, reducing customer cost and reducing carbon footprint as a result.
Finally, this year saw the culmination of years of work pay off in terms of manufacturing excellence for Made For Trade, with the company achieving the hugely enviable ISO9001:2015 certification, something that was a likely key point for judges. This standard for quality – rare in fenestration environments – puts every step of the manufacturing process under the spotlight in terms of procedures and repeatability, from initial contact right through to delivery. As the company looks to the future, the recognition gained as a North East Business Award winner truly goes hand-in-hand with Made For Trade’s continual improvement in manufacturing excellence.