A safety and security manufacturer has experienced a 20 per cent turnover boost and created three new jobs following support from GC Business Growth Hub.
Cardea Solutions, based in Trafford Park, has designed and produced an innovative range of safety and security products for the last 20 years.
They include its award-winning Fingershield door safety guard which is used in thousands of schools and nurseries, a buggy lock for public spaces and buildings, a British standard approved window restrictor and a police-approved window security shutter.
Its range is used by leisure attractions, healthcare premises and commercial properties all over the globe, with UK customers including the Imperial War Museum London, Virgin Active Leisure and the Travelodge Group.
The company approached GC Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, looking for support with its growth ambitions to launch a new product and enter new domestic and international markets.
It now boasts a team of 15, including three new staff, and has seen a turnover increase of 20 per cent over the last three years.
The business also has a patent pending on a new product and is about to start manufacturing, targeting new contracts in Scandinavia and South East Asia.
Paul O’Carroll, Managing Director of Cardea Solutions, said the support from the Hub has been vital.
“It is fantastic that SMEs can access this support at no cost to their business,” he said.
Paul contacted GC Business Growth Hub in 2016.
He explained: “Our focus as a business is firmly on innovation and we have built an international reputation as a quality producer of pioneering and competitively-priced products.
“We had developed a prototype which had potential to open up new markets for us, but we needed to invest significant time and finance in order to achieve this.”
The first step was to enrol Paul and his Commercial Director, Claire Lepine, on the Executive Development Programme (EDP), a course which enhances leadership skills to support the demands of a growing business.
Claire said the workshops and coaching sessions deepened her skills as a business leader.
“The impact of this can be seen first-hand,” she said. “Operationally we have defined the roles and responsibilities of the senior management team, introduced new processes and procedures and reviewed our approach to people management.
“This has led to greater autonomy for our business leaders and we have seen increased focus and motivation amongst our workforce.
“The EDP programme also helped us to review our strategic planning process. This was pivotal in us developing our growth plan and assessing our business development opportunities.”
The business was then referred to experts in the Business Growth Hub’s Manufacturing and Digital teams to focus on its new product.
Cardea was encouraged to apply for a grant from the Manufacturing Growth Fund to bring in a tooling design expert to develop the manufacturing process.
Using its £5,580 grant Cardea appointed another GC Business Growth Hub client, Wheatley Plastics, to deliver the project.
Andy Hinton, specialist Manufacturing Advisor at Business Growth Hub, said: “It was fantastic to see two local firms collaborating on this project. This is just one of the opportunities for SMEs working with the GC Business Growth Hub.”
Simultaneously, Digital Growth advisor Doug Tracey worked with the business to help them reach new markets.
This included a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and a review of Cardea’s website Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), to increase its organic traffic.
The final support was an introduction to the University of Salford where Cardea secured a student placement to support the company’s export strategy. The result was a new Amazon store to sell Cardea’s products online.
Paul O’Carroll said the support from the Hub has been crucial in realising its ambitions.
“By moving quickly to apply for the grant, receiving the financial support and identifying the right supplier for the project, we will soon begin to manufacture and secure lucrative new contracts in Scandinavia and Singapore,” he said.
“Since working with the Hub we have applied for a KiT patent for the product and we have taken on three new employees including a new Business Development Executive to help us grow in new markets.
“Our business has really benefitted from being able to work with specialists in such different fields.”