A manufacturer which took a calculated gamble costing almost £1 million is celebrating as a monthly winner of The Birmingham Post Business Awards.
Larkshill Engineering ploughed in the cash to buy new equipment which has "taken it to a different league" - and allowed it to better compete against former Eastern Bloc countries.
Managing director Frank Murphy said: "The new machinery is as good as there is and the quality we produce is second to none. It was a gamble, a calculated gamble, to invest and it has paid off for us."
Judges named Larkshill as the most deserving company featured in our business section during January. Mr Murphy, an engineer, started the business 20 years ago under the arches at Snow Hill station.
It is now set to achieve record sales of £2.5 million by the end of the financial year.
The figure represents an increase of more than 38 per cent on 12 months ago, while five extra skilled jobs have been created at the Hockley firm as a result.
Now based at a purpose-designed 18,000 sq ft factory in Bond Street, Larkshill employs 23 highly skilled engineers and specialises in the design and manufacture of precision machine tools, moulds, jigs and gauges for the
high-tech automotive and aerospace industries. Mr Murphy said competitors in Eastern European countries were able to make products more cheaply but his company competed strongly in quality, delivery and lead-time.
Its latest investment includes the purchase of a large CNC lathe, CNC miller and CNC vertical borer, which have been supported by grants from Advantage West Midlands' Accelerate programme.
The business ploughed in almost £1 million which was boosted by to £70,000 in grants.
Mr Murphy said: "The new machinery has taken us into a different league and we're on course for our best year ever. Around 80 per cent of our business these days is in aerospace and we like to think we are well placed there."
He said the company had landed new work which had previously gone to several former Eastern Bloc countries.
Mr Murphy said: "I can see difficult times for the sector overall but I believe the immediate future for companies in aerospace is bright."
He was delighted to have been named January winner.
He said: "I read The Post and I've always thought it would be good to be up there receiving the presentation. We've got a good team and we're delighted."
Organisers have revealed that former Jaguar chairman Sir John Egan - currently chairman of Severn Trent Water - will present the awards to be judged at Birmingham's Botanical Gardens on April 25.
* 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 Biztv, part of Aston Media at Aston University, which produces a business video of each monthly winner worth £2,500. Aston Science Park is a cosponsor of the annual award luncheon.