It is 154 years old, its parts are in 80 per cent of houses and 55 per cent of cars worldwide – and it is embracing the future with a new computerised business strategy.
Newtown-based Brandauer started life in 1862 in the Victorian era as a steel pen manufacturer at a time when Birmingham had more pen factories than the rest of the world put together. Today, it is a fifth generation company, still owned by the Petit family, which helped found the firm in 1862, making a billion parts a year. It exports 75 per cent of its products and has reinvented itself successfully in its goal to become Europe’s leading independent high-precision metal component specialist.
Chief executive Rowan Crozier said: “154 years ago, this business started making pen-nibs in the Jewellery Quarter and 15 years ago we moved to this new site.
“The previous factory had been built for the Victorian era, we only occupied two of the five floors, and the rest was rubbish.
“It was a blank canvas for us and we set our stall out to be the world’s best precision stamper. It provided that clean cultural break which allowed us to start growing and progress to what we are here today.
“I think the reason why this company has been historically successful has been its ability to reinvent itself.
“Our biggest revenue is China, about a third of the turnover, we had nothing there when we moved here. We supply a billion parts a year, our biggest sector is white goods, 35 to 40 per cent, controlled components for kettles, we have 80 per cent of the world’s market.
“Plumbing applications are 30 per cent. The next biggest is automotive at 15 per cent, technology for power-steering and airbag controls.
“We have got 55 per cent of the market with electrodes for rear-view mirrors, dimming functions. You will have touched a Brandauer part if you are in a car and adjusted your rear-view mirror. We are in 80 per cent of houses, and 55 per cent of cars worldwide.
“If you run a tap into a kettle it will be a Brandauer component.”
Mr Crozier said the firm’s link-up with Wolverhampton-based Technology Management had helped transform Brandauer following difficult recessionary periods.
“We have got the scars to prove it. Brandauer has been through a cycle of growth and we have had two blips in the last few years.
“The business was run by manual spreadsheets rather than a core software system.
“It was not joined up, we had separate manufacturing and accounting systems, and the spreadsheets on top. It is not a new IT system, it is a business simplification project, we have reinvented our business processes and Technology Management have been fundamental in helping us through that process.
“The old system was not up to the job. It has enabled us to access new markets, new customers.”
James Crowter, director of technology management, said: “They have spent a heck of a lot of money investing in the latest technology and we are trying to help give them the tools to use that technology more effectively.
“ The previous software was not really designed for Brandauer’s needs . There is no point spending £400,000 on a prettier version of what you had before.”
Mr Crozier added: “We have cut out the paper, we are going paperless. We are very pleased with the system, information is king, it enables me to have a finger on the pulse all the time.
“It is a massive enabler and confidence-builder to spring us into the next stage of our development, the process has been hugely empowering.”