Metal bashing in the Midlands is not yet dead with firms still having a future if they spread their bets and invest, it has been claimed.
Rising commodity prices and increased competition mean it is no longer enough to concentrate purely on volume manufacturing, the head of Birmingham Stopper said yesterday.
Roger Varley, managing director, was speaking as his Hockley-based firm picked up the Birmingham Post Business Award for April.
The pressings and metal fabricator, which employs 150 people, was recognised after it bought a rival from the administrators.
All 30 jobs were saved at Hickton Pressings in Halesowen after Birmingham Stopper came in with an offer to buy its trade and assets.
Mr Varley said: "Much has been said about the demise of metal bashing, and you can see why with the number of job losses there have been in the industry.
"Times are difficult, especially with rising steel prices and the competitions from low cost countries which means it is very hard if you are just involved in simple volume manufacturing.
"But if you invest in your future and move into added value markets you can survive. If you move into niche markets and spread your customers around, that helps a great deal as well."
Birmingham Stopper, which was originally set up in the 1870s, now sells pressings to the telecoms, computers, ventilation, office furniture and equipment markets as well as the automotive industry.
Mr Varley said: " We supply to more than 200 different firms and are continuing to invest in our business.
"We are very pleased with the acquisition of Hickton Pressings. It is now a month since we bought the company and we are delighted with he progress.
"We have introduced our own management into the business, and the workforce is very good. Everyone is getting on very well' It is a good fit, they can do things we cannot do and vice-versa. They have got big coil-fed presses that are bigger than what we have got, for example."
Birmingham Stopper is to take delivery of a #300,000 laser which will help it cut lead times on products and also enable it to cut thicker metal.
Mr Varley said: "This is one of our biggest investments. It means we can cut metal components and shapes without the need for tools, which means we will cut the lead times.
"It will also mean we can cut through metal 20mm thick, compared with the 6mm of normal bench presses."
The acquisition of Hickton could be followed by further deals in the coming months.
Mr Varley said: "We are always on the look out for acquisitions, as long as it is a good fit and complements the rest of our business."
The main sponsors of the Birmingham Post Business Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Champagne Taittinger.
British Airways and Aston Business School provide further support, along with Biz-tv, part of Aston Media at Aston University, which produces a business video of each monthly winner worth #2,500.
The judges choose the best news story appearing in The Post that month. So if you have a good story to tell, contact the Business Desk on 0121 236 3366 or click here to email us.