An entrepreneur has emerged as the brains behind a niche start-up company making safety roll cage kits for rally cars in an area dubbed "Motor Sport Valley".
Just six months after launching BMS Engineering, Phil Boffin, aged 48, can lay claim to one of his kits being installed in the Subaru Impreza WRC driven by Norwegian Petter Solberg, generally acknowledged as one of the world's best rally drivers.
Mr Boffin has set up his business in Broad Lane on the western side of Coventry in the heart of the European motor sport development zone, with the help of a £40,000 Selective Finance for Investment in England grant from regional development agency Advantage West Midlands. The funding has contributed to a state-of-the-art £93,000 Addison McKee CNC tube bending machine - the 'engine room' of BMS's 1,800 sq ft workshop.
He said: "BMS prides itself on its ability to respond to urgent demands and supply of high precision components. With special attention given to the areas of quality, cost and delivery, BMS is able to give its customers the very best service possible.
"The company was founded to support the high standards and critical demands of the motor sport industry with the supply of high quality tubular metal components. Without the support of AWM the venture would not have progressed beyond the embryonic stage.
"An aerospace derived quality/batch control system is in place to ensure all parts are traced back to source. BMS is able to offer its customers the very best value for money by using lean manufacturing techniques.
"Staff we take on will be trained in as many disciplines as possible to offer complete flexibility."
Steve Hines, grants case officer at Advantage West Midlands, said: "This project could well see the development of a new high precision company in motor sport, an area which AWM envisages as a growing cluster worthy of support and encouragement.
"One of the agency's key priorities is to make sure such companies have access to appropriate finance for growth and SFIE funding can often be the last piece in the financial jigsaw to trigger capital expenditure that leads to long-term improvements in productivity, skills and employment."
Presently Mr Boffin, who has many years experience in manufacturing including the aerospace and automotive sectors, in areas ranging from production to sales and purchasing, is being assisted on a part-time basis by 18-year-old son Chris, himself a keen amateur rally driver. In addition to the niche market area of making roll cage kits the company expects its computer-controlled machinery will help it land other tube-bending contracts.
Mr Boffin, who says the company expects to turn over £150,000 in its first year of trading, has also recently won orders from touring car firms for tube bending work, including for the new 2008 Honda Civic. A complete roll cage kit costs between £500 and £2,000 depending on complexity and material specification.
Other race and rally cars BMS has made kits for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24, MGBs and Ford Focus WRC.
"There's a part of all of us that wants to do something on our own," said Mr Boffin.
"It was really taking my son to rallies from the age of eight that triggered my passion for motor sport. Going into business on my own fulfils a dream and I am determined to make a success of it."