Four Birmingham companies have been shortlisted for success in the automotive industry’s top award.

Radshape Sheetmetal (Aston); Barkley Plastics and Midland Assembly Network – both of Highgate Street, Birmingham – and Bevan Motor Bodies (Oldbury) will join 17 other finalists from across the region at the Accelerator Supplier Awards 2008.

The ceremony takes place tomorrow at the ICC after several influential industry experts whittled down the original 65 entrants to a final shortlist.
With more than 40 years’ experience in the precision sheet metal industry, Radshape mixes traditional and new production methods using modern computerised technology to supply the aerospace, automotive, rail, food, MoD and electrical engineering industries. The Shefford Road-based firm employs 60 people and has been entered into two categories – ‘Environmental’ and ‘People Development’.

Midland Assembly Network is a collaboration of nine engineering companies supplying car manufacturers across the world which has won more than £8 million of new business.

Meanwhile, global plastics manufacturer Barkley has a 42-year tradition as a specialist in design; product development; project management; tool making, manufacturing, assembly and distribution and logistics.

Operating from premises measuring 80,000 sq ft, the firm makes in excess of 80 million mouldings a year.

Bevan Motor Bodies, the fourth largest commercial vehicle bodybuilder in the UK, has enjoyed similar success in developing new flagship premises in Halesowen, reducing customer lead times and increasing capacity from 1,700 hours a week to 2,000.

Rachel Eade, Accelerate programme manager, welcomed Birmingham’s wealth of automotive experience.

She said: “The diversity of the four local firms selected by our judges reinforce to the outside world that the automotive supply chain is confidently responding to the global market.”

Celebrity political pundit and popular after-dinner speaker Gyles Brandreth will host the ‘Legends’-themed event. And the theme is continued with a parade of historic vehicles.

Dramatically staged throughout the room will be two Morgans – past and future -, a Jaguar XF, Modec new generation electric delivery vehicle plus a coach, which represents the organisation’s chosen charity this year, the Variety Club.

Funds will be raised on the night to buy a coach for the charity.

Managed by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Advantage West Midlands, Accelerate has been staging the annual awards since 1999.

The judges include David Bizley, of RAC, Mike Robinson, of Jaguar/Land Rover, Matt Faultless, of Unipart and Accelerate chairman Malcolm Bird.
Ms Eade said: “This will be an event to remember and we’re expecting 500 guests to celebrate the industry’s achievements at the ICC.

“The automotive industry in the West Midlands is well-respected and the continuing success of our local companies bears testament to their determination to improve and lead by example.”

“Crucially, the thousands of jobs the industry, collectively provides, plays a pivotal role in the wealth and stability of the local economy,” she added.

Now in its eleventh year, Accelerate has grown into one of the most successful supply chain initiatives in the UK.

Driven by the changing face of the industry, the programme has assisted more than 3,000 companies in implementing best practice manufacturing systems, securing production efficiencies and cultivating workforce development.