Jane Robinson of Cutting Technologies back on point after weathering the storm

IT HAS weathered the recession and defied those that have declared the Yorkshire and UK manufacturing sector a dead man walking.

In doing so, Barnsley’s Cutting Technologies has become a massive success story.

You’ve probably heard of Cutting Technologies before; the firm supplied the Dragon’s Den success story Grip It Fixings, which received an £80,000 investment from Dragon Deborah Meadon, as well as the 2012 London Paralympic Games, but the Barnsley-based business has itself has overcome adversity to become a high-profile Yorkshire business, with a high-profile founder.

Director of Cutting Technologies, Jane Robinson, believes that it is the stoicism of the Barnsley people that have kept them going, as well as diversifying the business to protect it from the worst of the recession.

She said: “We thrive on the different and interesting projects, whilst keeping our bread and butter that is engineering work, as that as still very important to us.

“The creative sector has become a niche for us. A lot of creatives might have trouble speaking to an engineering manufacturer because those firms are used to getting a design for a finished part and putting it through the system, but an artist or an architect is coming to you with a concept that they might not necessarily know how to achieve. It’s very much a consultative project with them.

“Diversification is what saved us during the recession, a lot of our competitors went under and still struggle because they only supply one industry, whereas we don’t limit ourselves to just one.

“Another big advantage was working in Barnsley, and in the Sheffield region generally, because of the people. There’s a fantastic work ethic here, people come to work prepared to work, wanting to work, wanting to earn a decent wage and they’re happy to do so. It’s a partnership with our staff and I’m not sure we’d get that elsewhere in the country.”

Cutting Technologies at the Paralympics

Ms Robinson is also a proud and outspoken champion of opportunities in engineering for women, and when TheBusinessDesk.com spoke to her at her growing facility she had several talks lined up at local schools to encourage more young people to think about manufacturing as a viable career choice. She has also been named in trade publication The Manufacturer’s Top 100 Role Models in Manufacturing and is on the Regional Advisory Board for the EEF.

She said: “It wasn’t ever my life plan to go into the laser business, though being in business is always something that I wanted to do, but never thought it was something I’d be able to achieve after I failed my A levels. I think if you want something and you have an aptitude for it, and seriously prepared to work for it, then you’re going to get there one way or the other.”

Founded in 2003, with fellow directors Martin Cook and Barry Procter, in 2012, Cutting Technologies increased capacity by purchasing a 200W Eurolaser, but demand grew even further.

The firm recently invested £450,000 in new machinery with the help of an RGF grant, which brings its total investment in the past year to £1.25 million, bringing their laser count to seven.

On the RGF funding Cutting Technologies received, Ms Robinson said: “It’s not easy to get hold of, and nor should it be as it is taxpayers’ money, you have to create jobs and growth in the local economy, so Enterprising Barnsley gave us a consultant to deal with the application for a grant and supported us really well. Without them, we wouldn’t have got the money.”

Cutting technologies

February was a record month for Cutting Technologies and the firm is now aiming for £4m turnover this year after recovering from the recession, as well as looking to employ a further 10 people to add to its 32-strong team.

Ms Robinson said: “We want stability for the industry, we want to see slow, steady, sustainable growth.

“Now is the time to grow and build on the foundations we’ve put in place over the past 12 months, and there’s not a lot standing in our way.”