The fortunes of an ailing manufacturing business in the Black Country have been transformed by the determination and ambition of a local pressworker.
Ivan Evans, an exmanager at Metal Pressings Group in Birmingham, cast aside the doubts of colleagues and his local bank to follow his dream by taking over the reigns at JT Barker Productions, based on the Owen Road Industrial Estate in Willenhall.
Mr Evans ploughed £110,000 of his own savings into buying the company and turning around its fortunes.
Backed by support from auto supply chain initiative Accelerate and PDS Consultants, the entrepreneur has turned a loss-making business into a thriving press-worker serving customers in the automotive, electrical, heating and security industries.
He has also spent £100,000 on new equipment and refurbishing the premises as well as changing the name to JTB Pressings.
He said: "The company was on its knees and was on the brink of closure. The banks didn't want to know, so I decided to buy it.
"I spent a lot of time getting the fabric of the factory right; I am a very hands-on person and there was no way I would have done it otherwise.
"The windows were falling out, the foundations weren't very good. Nobody would put work here.
"So I fitted central heating, repaired the windows and painted the premises. I had to change the name as well because before it sounded like a film making firm. JTB Pressings sounds much better."
Previously the firm had been been heavily reliant on GKN and AGCO, so when the latter relocated to France, the previous owners couldn't imagine a way forward and started to make redundancies, said Mr Evans.
"I had been involved in the industry for more than 20 years and moved to the firm with a view to one day taking
over. When this opportunity arose in January 2004, I jumped at the chance," he added.
The company identified a niche in the marketplace for added value services and, through its work with business consultants PDS, has implemented a strategy that will target and exploit these opportunities.
Mr Evans said the firm now concentrated on low-volume work for a variety of customers which lessened its exposure to the loss of single contracts.
Fast turnaround times are the key to its success and helped the firm boost sales from £300,000 to be on target for £1 million this year.
Meanwhile the company has increased its staff from ten to 16 people to meet the demand.
Mr Evans, who is supported by general works manager Martin Hunt, said: "It's been a real whirlwind period for us, but we have been ably assisted throughout by a highly-committed workforce and a host of Government support.
"There have been doubts and problems, especially with the rising steel prices, but when you have an opportunity you have to take it."
The company has been helped by linking up with the Accelerate-backed Formbend Supply Chain Improvement Network.
Under the arrangement Formbend, a tube manipulation company in West Bromwich, works with its suppliers, ensuring the chain is agile, pro-active and sustainable.
Mr Evans said: "This has enabled us to access a level of expertise that we simply could not have gained on our own."
The company is now looking at new premises to house its expansion drive in the coming months, as well as training its workforce.
Iain Graham at PDS said: "It's a difficult environment to operate in, let alone start what is in essence a new company.
"However, in reality, this fresh approach to introducing a new business model has proved to be Ivan's biggest strength and an irresistible formula for winning new orders. JTB Pressings is now looking to build on its initial success by channelling further investment in information technology, welding equipment and coil feed presses, all acquisitions that will support the planned expansion."