Two Black Country men have seen their faith in their industry rewarded two years after deciding to go it alone.
Kevin Jew and Kenneth Mole had both worked for century-old nut and bolt distributor Thomas William Lench up until it ceased trading in May 2006.
Believing that the traditional industry was still viable in the Black Country, the duo turned to Business Link West Midlands for advice on striking out on their own. After securing grant aid they sought the advice of a business consultant to draw up a business plan covering the ins and outs of going it alone as a nut and bolt distributor.
The firm, KJ Fasteners of Dudley, based at the Primrose Trading Estate in Netherton, managed to turn in a reasonable profit - as opposed to a predicted loss of £1,000 - in its first 12 months.
Now, almost two years on, the two men have exceeded all forecasts and are looking to turn over £500,000 in their second year of trading.
After help and advice from consultant Peter Hackett, they have achived the ISO 9001 and BS8555 quality standards and are aiming to grow the firm's customer base and increase its workforce.
Mr Jew, a former sales manager with Thomas William Lench, believes the key to their success is flexibility and an ability to respond to very short lead times.
"Customers in today's market are not prepared to stock and, therefore, require exact counts when and where they are needed," he said. "By holding high volumes of strategic stock and packing into specific sets we are able to meet this demand."
Fellow director Mr Mole was logistics manager for his former employer and between them, the pair have managed to retain many of their former customers.
They supply regularly to steel fabricators in the construction industry, as well as exporting to the mining industry and supplying agriculture and civil engineering.
"After each working for the same company for more than 30 years going it alone was a big step for us, but we both felt we didn't want to work for anyone else and that the market was there for a small company," said Mr Jew.
Business Link West Midlands adviser Shuba Gupta said: "In these days of doom and gloom it's great to hear of a local company doing so well.
"Their success lies in their flexibility in that they source products to fit their clients' exact requirements and we will be offering them continued mentoring through our support programme."
Business Link West Midlands has recruited specialists to help start-ups across the region, with potential entrepreneurs now able to access the most comprehensive support ever assembled.
By 2010 the organisation will have helped 70,000 businesses and this level of support is expected to generate a £400 million improvement to the economic performance of the West Midlands.