A traditional Birmingham metal basher has been transformed into a global hi-tech car window supplier making heated windows for vehicles including the American Humvee military vehicle.
Strip Tinning, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in January, was traditionally focused on low profit copper components for the computer chip and roofing industries.
But following a #1 million investment over the last three years, the company has moved to new premises and is facing a much brighter future.
The firm which is based at the Arden Business Park in Frankley was helped to complete the transformation after receiving help from business and technology advisers from the University of Warwick.
Earlier this month it signed two new deals to supply a Chinese car manufacturer and the US military vehicles.
The first new deal is with Xinyi in China to provide busbars for their heated car windows – a deal expected to be worth #500,000 a year.
This month has also brought the company a breakthrough into the US market with a contract to supply materials to military spec for heated windows for the new US military Hummer.
Strip Tinning's components will help create 48,000 military spec heated windows a year for this vehicle.
These deals are just the latest step in the company's transformation from a traditional metal basher making large sections of copper and copper coated with tin for sale to mostly UK and German companies at margins or around 15 per cent.
Richard Barton, managing director of Strip Tinning, said: "We prided ourselves on being able to make the biggest tinned copper sections and typically produced huge rolls of copper coil for telecoms and coated copper for roofing.
"Birmingham is the centre of the UK brass industry, we were coating brass and copper for connectors and circuit boards, but it was getting harder.
"That business is either closing down or going to China. So we decided to branch out to more high margin, high-tech products because a lot of our customers were going bust."
Mr Barton added: "We were in an old, freezing building in Heath Street in Birmingham city centre, and now we are in a brand new, purpose built building," said Mr Barton.
"We have focused on the niche aspect of the business, and invested in the technology and skills of our staff."
The firm now supplies its heated windows products – a tin coated copper filament which goes around the edge of the windscreen – to customers ranging from Bentley and Aston Martin to Ford.
It is one of only two suppliers to Ford in the world, and produces 400,000 assemblies every year for the Ford Fiesta alone. The help was funded by the DTI in a two year Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme led by Dr Charles Tennant at the University of Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group. Dr Tennant said: "The scheme gave the management of the company a clear direction, focusing them on quality procedures, more automation of their processes, and encouraging them to move away from labour and materials intensive sales to UK customers at low margins to more high-tech products with higher margins on a global basis.
"They established a vision to become 'the highest value added producer of hot dipped tinning'.
"They also became one of a very few SMEs in UK to get new ISO/TS 16949 – a requirement to even get considered for business with multinationals such as Ford. The scale of transformation of the company is extraordinary."
Following the project, turnover at the company has risen from #1 million to #3 million, while exports have risen from 19 per cent to 86 per cent of sales.
Meanwhile wastage is down from 35 metric tons a month to less than 0.5 metric tones a month.
The company has just ordered new equipment to allow it to create high specification tinned copper components for photovoltaic systems (solar power cells).