Oct 01, 2004

Ballymena-based Warwick Engineering is gearing up for continued growth in Northern Ireland and in external markets such as Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, with help from Invest Northern Ireland.

The company, which specialises in structural and architectural fabrications, has been working closely with Invest NI’s north eastern local office to identify how it can improve processes and procedures to maximise its competitiveness.

As a result the company had the opportunity to join the Northstar Programme to help it to ensure that its management, recruitment and manufacturing systems would enable it to respond quickly and cost-efficiently to new business opportunities, in particular outside Northern Ireland.

As part of the support offered by the Northstar Programme, which is run by Invest NI’s Business Improvement Services (BIS), an experienced businessman, Bill Balmer, was assigned as a mentor to help the company enhance its ability to compete for new business.

Victor Jordan, BIS Director, said: “Warwick Engineering began as a one-man business and has experienced significant growth in terms of sales turnover and employment.

“Every company, especially one which has grown strongly as Warwick Engineering, needs, at some stage, to take stock, review all its operating procedures and plan for further growth. This is where the Northstar Programme can help by providing specialist advice and support to management in tackling a specific issue that could inhibit growth.

“Mentors offer practical advice in areas required by an individual company such as marketing, production, technical, finance and personnel; a broad range of skills that may not be readily available in a small business,” he added.

Cecil Warwick, Warwick Engineering’s Managing Director, describes the Northstar programme as “excellent”.

“Our mentor, Bill Balmer, was of tremendous assistance. He brought skills that we needed and the company has now developed thanks to his advice and the systems he set in place, particularly in terms of recruitment, which can be a very complex area for a small business.

“We’ve grown fast and are currently working at full capacity to meet the demand for our services. We needed to take a look at all our systems, especially in areas such as recruitment and office systems in which we were weak because our focus has been on production and customer service.

“The mentor provided the independent and experienced viewpoint that our business needed. The introduction of more efficient systems and processes that have resulted from his engagement with the business will help enormously as we pursue opportunities in Northern Ireland and further afield,” he added.

The company has also received funding to invest in new processes through Invest NI’s COMPETE programme that assists R&D projects.

Northstar Programme

Invest NI has a panel of experienced business people who act as mentors through the Northstar Programme. Between them they have a wealth of experience in managing and directing businesses. The role of a mentor is to help small businesses to overcome problems and improve their competitiveness by means of their knowledge and expertise.

The programme is funded by Invest NI and is provided to qualifying companies free of charge.

Warwick Engineering
Warwick Engineering was formed in 1992 by Mr Warwick as a small machine shop in outbuildings at the rear of his home in Ballymena. Initially, it carried out small engineering jobs, mostly for local farmers.

The business now employs 25 people working in five main product areas:
·Structural steel used in the construction of frames for buildings;
·General fabrication, including steel stairways and mezzanine floors;
·Stainless steel work such as hygiene products and ornamental work;
·Architectural specials using steel work; and
·Removal of old plant.

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