Most of us give little thought to the precision engineering needed to produce the components in electrical products. One of these essential processes is wire stripping - removing the outer layer of plastic from electrical wires. Safe, durable electrical connections begin with clean, accurate wire stripping.
Revolutionising the medical, data and automotive industries thanks to its innovative technology, Pontypridd-based Laser Wire Solutions is at the cutting edge of laser and robot technology.
The firm is a global leader in laser wire stripping and has a vast knowledge of the capabilities of laser technology for wire stripping applications.
Laser Wire Solutions has been supported through Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme (AGP). The AGP provides targeted support for ambitious growing firms. The programme is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.
Here, founder Dr Paul Tayor explains how the company has developed in recent years, how it has overcome the challenges of the pandemic and the help it has received from the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme.
Tell us about Laser Wire Solutions
We place our expertise and experience at the heart of our operation at Laser Wire Solutions. I established the business more than ten years ago, and our team comprises professionals who know our customers' needs inside out. I'll explain what we do in more detail because it is highly technical and intricate. It also explains why we need highly-skilled experts on our team.
Our business is all about simplifying the wire stripping process by designing and manufacturing ground-breaking solutions that use laser technology. We deliver evidence-based laser wire stripping solutions that automate processes to reduce scrappage and increase yield for our global customer base.
Our 60-strong team has experience spanning decades gained in a range of industries. Our engineers design and manufacture bench-top, automated systems which provide our customers with a safe, easy and efficient method for stripping the delicate wires and cables they use in medical devices such as neurological catheters. We also provide an ISO 9001-certified Contract Manufacturing service that offers our customers an alternative to capital equipment investment.
We're a global player and export to companies predominantly in North and South America and Europe, including Tesla, SpaceX, Abbot and Johnson & Johnson. We also have a team of field engineers available across the regions to provide ongoing support to our customers to ensure they experience no downtime in their essential processes. Our customers are continually innovating to find new ways of packing more sensors and wires into smaller packages – and our machines help make this possible.
What are your proudest moments in business so far?
Of course, having been around for more than a decade, we have a few. But I think back to when the company was just starting, and winning the initial grant funding and securing investment showed me that someone else believed in me. I was new to entrepreneurship, so that was a brilliant feeling.
Winning and successfully delivering my first order was the next milestone. We've come so far since those early days. When I addressed the team in our first meeting at the QED Centre – our new factory in Pontypridd – it meant so much to me. It was proof that the work we're doing here is at the forefront of this highly specialist sector.
What challenges have you faced in business?
Nobody saw the pandemic coming and could have predicted the consequences for the business. Covid-19 was a massive challenge for us. All of our export markets were affected overnight, and many of our contracts were put on hold.
Despite this initial impact, we assessed and built on relationships with suppliers to ensure minimal disruption to production. We had to furlough staff, but we have since recovered thanks to the quality of our products and our reputation for innovation. We experienced our best year yet in 2022, keeping our growth on track.
Managing our growth hasn't been without its challenges either. We found short-term solutions initially, meaning different departments worked in separate buildings. Despite the best efforts of the team to keep things collaborative, we soon realised that it wasn't a sustainable way of working. So we needed to find a forever home where the whole team could be under one roof.
Despite the ongoing economic challenges, we've taken the significant step of acquiring the QED Centre on the Treforest Industrial Estate in Pontypridd, previously used by the Welsh Government. It's an apt place for us to locate our new headquarters. I was at the QED Centre 12 years ago when applying for a start-up grant. The property's acquisition proves our commitment to growing a long-term, sustainable and growing business in south Wales.
If you were starting again, what would you do differently?
Building a business is iterative, and what works today would not necessarily have helped at an earlier stage. Reflecting on how things have gone, I think there are some broad learnings I've taken on board along the way. Firstly, you must always focus on hiring for skills and attitude. Knowledge can be taught, but the right skills and attitude are much harder to find. Secondly, earlier training on management systems like ISO9001 would have helped keep the team singing from the same hymn sheet. Finally, when new people arrive, it is easy for things to get disorganised if you don't have a simple onboarding structure to follow.
How has support from Business Wales AGP helped your business?
I approached the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme before the company was formed. That initial support enabled me to raise investment to develop our first products. I initially put together a small team in areas such as engineering, marketing, finance and business development. As the business has grown, so has our team, and we now employ 60 engineers, scientists, production engineers and support staff.
There have been challenges along the way, and at every stage, we have turned to the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme for support. A turning point came when I realised that I couldn't head up all aspects of the business. With the help of my AGP Relationship Manager, I developed a strategy which saw a complete restructuring of the company and the recruitment of senior leaders. Finally, I could free myself from the demands of everyday tasks and concentrate on what I do best – innovation and future strategy.
What advice and guidance would you give other businesses starting out?
- Never give up. As long as you are still moving forwards – that is all that matters.
- Communicate clearly and often. Business can get complex – your team needs your help to see things in simple terms.
- Think of your customers as part of your business and treat them as valued partners – they will respond accordingly.
- Be ready for your role to change. Your job will be different every year as the business grows.
To learn more about Laser Wire Solutions, visit here.
Further information on the Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme
The Business Wales Accelerated Growth Programme is a pan-Wales programme part funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.