Six-figure expansion for Honiton firm

Ash Safety to move into manufacturing and also open depots in Glasgow and Swindon.

A family business in Honiton is to invest a six-figure sum in automated machinery to allow it to expand into manufacturing and open new depots in Glasgow and Swindon.

The move means Ash Safety will be able to mount an aggressive expansion policy.

With an established background in assembling, servicing and hiring out advanced safety equipment for the utility, construction and other industries, Ash Safety is also a provider of City and Guilds-accredited training for users.

Andr� Beard, the company’s founder and owner, confirmed last week that a further major investment will be made in testing equipment, opening up a potential new income stream as an approved test centre.

“It’s exactly the right moment to take a really close look at what and who we are, what we’re good at and what we’re not,” he said.

Mr Beard is determined to enhance the skills of his people, both to handle the company’s sudden projected growth and to identify those who, in time, could take over the day-to-day management of the business from him.

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As a result, he has been working closely with Helen Colebrook of Peninsula Enterprise, which delivers the Business Link High Growth Skills Service across the South West.

Helen said: “Ash Safety is exactly the kind of fast-growing business that we’re here to help, where the skills of its people are vital to both to drive and manage its growth for the long term.”

Mr Beard has been impressed by the support he’s received to date, which includes the development and implementation of a company-wide appraisal process.

At the heart of the service, though, is a series of free workshops covering the key strategic, financial, management and marketing skills that Mr Beard’s selected senior deputies will need to take the business forward.

He said: “Business Link was able to select the best course for us based on a detailed assessment of our needs. I first went on the courses myself to assess them, and they are excellent – they’ll directly contribute to our strength and depth as a business.

“Then I chose four people to go through this development process, and the outcomes have been fascinating. Unexpectedly, they’re a great way of finding out more about your people. Some come back really enthusiastic and very keen to apply what they’ve learned to their day-to-day work. Others are much cooler about the whole thing and don’t particularly change their way of working.”

He is also working with Business Link to gain European Union accreditation as a fully approved test house for safety equipment. As he says, “It is an absolutely superb service for a business like mine, covering pretty much every aspect of what I need as an owner and manager.”