Growing a business in an already competitive market, dominated by multinationals, is the story of the next company we feature in our blog series.
Bedwas-based ColourTone Masterbatch develops and produces custom colour and additive masterbatches in commodity and engineering polymers. It has just undergone an acquisition which has given it the foundation for further growth.
Here, general manager of ColourTone, Simon Atteby, tells the story of the business and offers advice to others embarking on the entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us about ColourTone Masterbatch.
We can deliver custom colours to an exact match in less time than it takes to get a standard off-the-shelf universal product because we have a high level of production flexibility. It means we can move quickly as demands change.
Our focus is on delivering a responsive, high-quality service for bespoke colours, in universal, commodity and engineering polymers, as well as custom additive blends. Our masterbatch materials are suitable for use in most plastics processes including injection and blow moulding, profile and sheet extrusion as well as film and fibres.
Our plant, at the Pant Glas Industrial Estate in Bedwas, Caerphilly, gives us the flexibility to meet customer demands for colour matching and sampling through to manufacture and the tools to develop new products.
The acquisition by Luxus meant I was brought in as general manager. I’ve led changes to the way we do things – we’ve reshaped our manufacturing process and made differences to organisation and resource planning. The way we control our finances has also been changed and improved.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
The changes and improvements we’ve led at ColourTone have proved enormously satisfying. In so many ways, this is an innovative company with an exciting future ahead – and we’re proud that we’re at the heart of the community, providing skilled jobs and generating growth for the Welsh economy.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
This is a difficult question, given the story of the business so far – especially because of the acquisition by Luxus. The way we have mapped out the future and put our expertise and knowledge at the centre of ColourTone means we have a very forward-thinking approach to our business.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
Business Wales AGP has helped us in so many ways – from international sales to HR support and efficiency wins on the production line.
We’ve grown our headcount by ten staff and have increased export sales with the support of Business Wales AGP.
We were advised to bring in sales agents as part of our international expansion strategy. These agents have been instrumental in securing new customers in Europe, and this has helped us unlock routes to market and establish the best strategy for selling into new territories.
We were also supported with organisational structure and advised on a defined structure of transparent salary scales. Not only did this ensure people costs can be forecast and managed, but it also means staff are treated fairly. Employees can now see their earning potential in their current role, as well as what they can expect if they develop or progress into more advanced positions.
A performance review and appraisal system which provides clear and defined development plans for each employee has been implemented with advice from Business Wales AGP.
We’ve also been given help with developing a set of key performance indicators (KPIs), to process improvements in our production lines.This has led to production efficiencies, which means we have been able to process more sales and given us greater control over the measurement of data.
Business Wales AGP has helped challenge and support ColourTone on how best to position our brands and products so that they are seen clearly and understood by their existing and potential customers. This has helped to ensure that our marketing is effective.
Having supported us with our brand strategy, we were given recommendations on changes to our website and support is now being provided to make further improvements as the business scales up.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
● Source advice from others. Using the external expertise of Business Wales AGP has given us the chance to grow and expand into new markets. It has helped not only streamline our business, but also create a more progressive environment for our staff.
● Celebrate your locality. We’re proud to be part of the community in Bedwas, providing skilled jobs for local people.
● Be ambitious. If you don’t give yourself ambitious goals, then you are not fulfilling your responsibility as the leader of your organisation.
For more information on ColourTone Masterbatch, visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme.