A Warwick-based electronic assembly specialist is celebrating its 15th anniversary in style, by posting record sales and signing off on a £350,000 investment.
SMT Developments, which employs 35 people at its state-of-the-art facility on the Heathcote Industrial Estate, is on course to smash the £3m sales barrier for the first time in its history after enjoying significant growth in automotive, LED lighting and specialist electronics.
The company has taken on five new staff to cope with this expansion and also invested in a new six-head pick and place machine, automated selective soldering and doubled its ultravision inspection capability.
This is a far cry from 2000 when founder Phil Rowley set up the business in a small industrial unit not much bigger than a domestic garage.
“Looking back it was probably not a textbook business decision. I was Commercial Director at an automotive electronics specialist and was given the task of finding a firm who used surface mount technology in small volumes,” commented Phil, who is joined at the helm by his son John and wife Elaine.
“After much searching I couldn’t find a suitable supplier so went back to the board with the suggestion that we do it ourselves. They said no and I thought, well I’m going to do it anyway.”
He continued: “I didn’t really know much about electronic assembly at that stage, but re-mortgaged and used the money on a small starter workshop. It didn’t take long before I realised I needed an electronics designer to add that level of expertise!”
SMT Developments, which is a member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), was born on April 1st 2000 in a 1000 sq ft unit only a few hundred metres away from its current 15,000 sq ft building.
The company’s first order was to supply electronics to go into a DVD player for the Ford Galaxy and, as volumes increased, so did enquiries from clients operating in other sectors.
Boosted by this interest, it moved to a larger factory and it was here where the firm’s largest ever order was secured…a £1.8m contract – delivered over 20 months – to Paxton Access.
This triggered the first investment in automation and put SMT in a position to win new high-profile contracts.
“Looking around our current site now and you wouldn’t believe how far we’ve come in 15 years,” explained John, who joined the company straight from University in 2002.
“We now have a truly world class facility for providing total turnkey services, from electronic assembly prototypes to fully tested total product build.”
He went on to add: “£1m was spent on purchasing the building in 2014 and we’ve followed this up with a further £350,000 investment, including the addition of a conformal coating line that allows us to go after more specialised work in aerospace and MoD. There’s easily enough capacity now to do £5m sales per year.
“It’s not all about technology though. We do still own our first ever Dek 248 screen printer, which is still put into use for quirky shaped boards.”
Phil Rowley concluded:
“We should also mention the significant support we’ve received off the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), first with Growing Places funding to help secure the building and, more recently, with £70,000 of Regional Growth Funding towards the purchase of the new machinery.
“In particular Rob Bent from the LEP has been fantastic. He understood the potential in our business and made things as easy as they could be when applying. This meant we got the assistance quickly and was able to capitalise on a number of new business opportunities.”
SMT Developments currently supplies electronic assembly services to customers involved in LED lighting, supercar manufacture, superfast broadband solutions, robotics, automotive aftermarket technology and cash weighing machines.
It is an active member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), a nine-strong group of sub-contract manufacturers who work together to win work both at home and overseas.