Operating from two sites in Newtown, Makefast specialises in the manufacturing of marine and safety hardware. Their customers include prestigious blue-chip companies such as Sunseeker and Princess Yachts. With 105 members of staff, the business is managed by a multi-disciplined dynamic team, who are focussed on new product development, excellent customer service, productivity and the financial wellbeing of the organisation.
Currently, over 50% of the company’s products are exported with strong growth within the USA market. Makefast continues to build upon its activities in North America by developing its marine products and entering the safety market.
What challenges and potential issues did you face due to the Brexit uncertainty?
Makefast exports more than 50% of its goods, 25% of which is sent to the EU. The business has well established distributors within France, Germany and Italy. Any extra costs incurred through additional administration, customs charges and travel arrangements due to Brexit would severely impact upon Makefast’s profit margins and would, therefore, have to be part-passed onto the customer.
Furthermore, Makefast has a supply chain that depends upon stainless steel and raw plastic imported from the EU. To ensure continuity of supply post-Brexit, the business would have to stock at least three months’ worth of material.
Your reasons for applying for the Brexit Resilience Grant: what projects is this going to be invested towards and how do you think the fund would help you tackle the challenges posed by Brexit?
We identified additional markets for our products within the USA, building on existing distributor relationships and knowledge of shipping goods overseas. We have recently attended a major USA boat show and plan to attend a further event this year as part of our marketing campaign. However, cost is a major consideration and in order to exploit these opportunities, we must produce products more efficiently.
The funding from the Welsh Government and Business Wales’ Brexit Resilience Grant allowed us to purchase a Doosan Puma TT1800SY twin turret lathe at a cost of £279,000. This machine tool complements the existing equipment and allows more efficient means of manufacture, including material usage, speed of production and lights out unattended running. Consequently, the components produced will be at a 25% reduced cost. This competitive advantage will allow us to offer our standard components to new markets with an estimated increase in turnover of £100,000/year.
As a result of the investment, it is anticipated that 20 jobs at an average salary level of £20,000 would be either created or safeguarded over the project period.
Any feedback you might have on your engagement with the Business Wales service and the support you’ve received
The service and knowledge provided by the Business Wales team is always professional and helpful. They are approachable and always willing to provide advice and share their industry knowledge. (Mike Mills, Operation Director)
What other activities are you undertaking to prepare your business for the UK leaving the EU?
We have contacted our key suppliers to ensure continuity of supply and are currently re-visiting our commodity codes in order to understand tariff charges as the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
Business Wales involvement
Makefast have had an ongoing relationship with Business Wales where Relationship Manager Rowan Jones has provided business support to the company and has advised on their growth plans. He has helped them with the successful applications for a Growth and Prosperity Fund grant (£12,860) as well as a Brexit Resilience Grant of £100,000.
Mike and the team have also been supported by Sustainability Adviser David Walker, who has helped them adopt an environmental policy as well as a range of energy-saving and resource efficiency measures.