REGIONAL manufacturing support body the West Midlands Manufacturing Consortium is recruiting a new chairman.

The consortium, which oversees the work of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS-WM), is seeking to replace popular industrialist Mike Smith, who is stepping down after more than five years at the helm.

The move comes at a difficult time for the industry as it battles against the effects of the credit crunch and the worst trading conditions for 17 years.

Mr Smith’s successor will be charged with helping to develop the MAS-WM service offer so that it helps manufacturers overcome these problems and make the most of global opportunities.

It is believed that suitable candidates will have a high profile within the industry and the ability to bring the public and private sectors together. The successful candidate will also have a major role to play in promoting the region and in seeking to influence Government manufacturing policy.

MAS-WE chief executive – and Birmingham Post columnist – David Wright said: “We are looking for a dynamic, inspirational leader who understands the current world of manufacturing and can provide strategic direction as chairman of the non-executive board.

“Our chair will also be responsible for helping us meet performance and budget targets, manage key stakeholder relationships and, importantly, be an ambassador for our service.”

Mr Wright also praised the outgoing chairman. “Mike Smith did an excellent job and helped us become the leading specialist support agency in the region ... a hard act to follow, but we certainly have the calibre of people in the West Midlands who will relish this opportunity,” he said.

The Manufacturing Advisory Service, which is funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, seeks to improve the economic performance of manufacturing businesses by providing expert support to improve productivity and competitiveness.

Established in 2002, it has assisted more than 5,000 companies in improving their products, productivity, processes and staff. It has also added more than £120 million to the turnovers of firms that have embarked upon in-depth business improvement projects.

Its team of specialist advisers – many with more than 30 years’ experience – work with companies on the shop floor to improve processes, implement lean production techniques and secure new quality accreditations.

There is also a major emphasis on providing support in developing new products and in increasing sales and marketing activity both at home and abroad.

“Since 2002, we have helped more than 5000 manufacturers from precision engineers and medical specialists to aerospace suppliers and automotive component makers,” added Mr Wright.

“We are continuing to evolve in order to meet new global challenges and, armed with a £6 million annual budget, have ambitious plans to further stimulate the manufacturing community and generate economic growth within the West Midlands.”

In addition to the post of chairman, MAS-WM is also looking to recruit two non-executive directors to its board.

The West Midlands Manufacturing Consortium is a partnership between Business Link in the West Midlands, EEF West Midlands and Warwick Manufacturing Group.

The closing date for applications is November 26.