In my last Column, I mentioned the role of Productivity. For my team, and our business, achieving and improving output is vitally important.
Companies operating in Burton and the wider West Midlands have a major advantage as our economy is amongst one of the strongest performing regions in the country.
This is no small part due to the continued predominance of manufacturing. Within the Midlands, the impact of manufacturing is calculated to be equivalent to 38% of regional GDP.
It is clear to see that we are part of a growing economic powerhouse; and along with that fact, there are signs of growing productivity. Recent research has pointed to around 1 in 6 West Midlands manufacturing firms in bringing manufacturing back to the UK. Household names like JLR and Bombardier have all been attracted by the availability and access to the region’s rich assets of which we in Burton are an important part.
In our District, these assets include excellent skills, a flexible workforce, a strong innovation environment, links to local universities and consultancy firms, a superb design base and low costs. Our MP Andrew Griffiths is to be congratulated for tapping into these rich and growing assets; and promoting local job opportunities through his annual Jobs Fairs held at the Pirelli Stadium. Each of the Fairs has contributed to expanding and enhancing the workforce in the area.
Our advanced manufacturing and engineering in East Staffordshire can and does compete with anywhere in Europe. We are achieving this through our high productivity, high quality and low labour costs. It is pleasing to note that recent reports show that our area is also well-placed to develop this further through investment in skills and technology.
However, it is still disappointing that infrastructure remains in general terms a constraint on continued growth in our area. There are some small positive signs of improvement in what I will call ‘connectivity’; though our road links still appear to fail to take into account of travel-to-work zones. I expect we have all witnessed this during the busy daily rush hours around Burton, Uttoxeter, and Swadlincote.
Moving down to the micro-level of an individual business, providing the means to enhance productivity has got to be a high-priority. By that I do not just mean improving process, like time management and reducing waste, as they should be understood to be a given in good business management.
At Yee Group, we have instilled the concept of time management as part of our productivity initiatives. Our engineers have fully adopted new techniques delivering enhanced efficiencies through effective project planning, purchasing programmes, and careful assessment of each contract at its conclusion. We have invited our engineers to provide detailed feedback, and to make suggestions on ways of continuing improving business practices.
Whilst judging the shortlisted entries in the Customer Services category of the Burton Mail Business Awards, we took time to investigate with each of the local companies where they had applied innovative service practices. It was illuminating that in 100% of the case studies we reviewed, investing in better customer service had made a significant contribution to the bottom line.
Discussing and reviewing the four shortlisted entries has convinced me of the continuing high-levels of best practice that members of the Burton and District Chamber exhibit on a daily basis; and how our business community should take pride in the standards now being achieved that are rewarded and recognised in local, regional and national awards.
As President of the Chamber, I am delighted to congratulate all of the finalists in this year’s Burton Mail Business Awards. Every business is a winner. The often quoted ‘It’s the taking part that counts’ is really appropriate. For example, my business took another major step-forward when it was named Business of the Year.
I welcome feedback and comment on this column and the work and activities of the Chamber. You can contact me at [email protected]
President of Burton and District Chamber of Commerce
Managing Director, Yee Group Limited