A Birmingham insulation products manufacturer has diversified into the aerospace and nuclear industries to ride out the recession.
W G Eaton, which has been trading for nearly 150 years, was forced to rethink its strategy in order to survive after a huge and sudden downturn in orders for its traditional products.
Based in Lower Essex Street, the company makes and distributes heat-protection and thermal insulation products.
Typically, Eaton’s products – such as heat-resistant personal protective clothing and welding blankets – are used in the metal processing industry.
As a result of many long-established customers being caught up in the supply chain cut-backs, the company has been forced to change path and seek to target other sectors, such as aerospace, oil and gas, and the nuclear industries.
Chairman Peter Wall said: “Clearly we would not last very long if we’d just carried on as we were in the light of the downturn which has hit our field of business particularly hard.
“We have had to think hard about how we go forward, expanded the range of products that we offer and work to develop more as a service provider to advise customers on what products they need.
“This means combining our knowledge of high-performance materials with our expertise in solving heat-protection problems so we can use our flexible manufacturing skills to provide technical products specific to customers’ needs.”
Mr Wall, a member of the CBI SME Council and the West Midlands Enterprise Board, said the company had received support from a number of organisations to achieve the diversification, including the Manufacturing Advisory Service – West Midlands, Business Link, Aston University and Advantage West Midlands.
He said: “It would be good to think that other local companies could diversify to a similar extent – the support on offer to help do just that is there. This was vital in helping us to refocus our strategy and, crucially, redesign our website to reflect our new approach.
“Already a number of very large companies have approached us to help solve their heat-protection and insulation issues which means our work is now directly linked to the low-carbon and energy-saving agenda.”
Founded in 1860 by William G Eaton, the company initially specialised in making flat leather transmission belting.
Since that time W G Eaton has continuously developed and refined its expertise in heat-protection and insulation solutions for industry.