A WILTSHIRE engineering firm that almost went down the outsourcing route five years ago is marking a turnabout that has seen exports soar and the workforce increase.
Alvan Blanch managing director Andrew Blanch was considering closing down the manufacturing operation at Crudwell and moving it to the Fear East.
Skilled workers and graduate engineers were in short supply and the UK market was stagnant.
But he told the Standard he had an epiphany and decided investment in the family company’s factory to make it more efficient and competitive was the way to go.
“It was a bit of a gamble really,” he said. “We are still fighting against extremely difficult competition in low cost countries.”
But the gamble has paid off with Alvan Blanch now exporting its post harvest processing equipment like grain driers to 90 countries across the world, including Russia, which has become one of its biggest markets.
The company’s export success has earned a second Queen’s Award which was handed over this week as the company prepares for a £1.3 million expansion with new buildings, plant and machinery.
“I’m really glad we have done it. Everyone feels positive about working in a company where we are investing money.”
Changes that speeded up the planning process and co-operation with Wiltshire Council have also played a major part.
“A few years ago we wouldn’t even have attempted to get it through planning. I don’t think we would have had a hope.”
Without the development the firm would have been turning work away, he explained.
The Award for international trade, which was announced during the company’s diamond year in 2012, was presented by Lord Lieutenant Sarah Troughton at a special ceremony on Tuesday.