Future Focus: Back on the road with Cornish business owners
A small step back, a big leap forward
At Unlocking Potential we were delighted to finally get our Future Focus programme back on the road with an ‘Uber Trip’ this September. Delegates from some of Cornwall’s most ambitious and innovative manufacturing businesses took the rare chance to step away from the day-to-day, get out of Cornwall, think afresh about production and people, and relish the opportunity to compare notes with peers.
Future Focus is a collaborative project with The University of Exeter’s Business School, based on their Penryn Campus. Having travelled up from Truro to Worcester, delegates – after some evening networking – spent the trip’s middle day in two places. The morning’s visit took them to Worcester Bosch, the afternoon’s to Morgan Motors.
Visit to Worcester Bosch
These complementary experiences allowed them glimpses of how innovation and excellence in manufacturing can take very different forms. Worcester Bosch make one in three of all boilers sold in the UK, have decades of experience, five production lines, and are acknowledged as being leaders in their field when it comes to automation, efficiency and high-end manufacture. One delegate, James Chapman of Chapman Machinery (from Bude, manufacturers of agricultural machinery) was particularly struck by the experience:
We saw a lot of things, a whole range, and it’s going to take a day or so to digest, but I think personally, at Worcester Bosch there’s a real focus on how you can do things efficiently … and there’s a lot of things I can take away from that, personally.
Visit to Morgan Motors
After lunch, the focus of the day shifted to something quite different. Morgan Motors hand-build between six and seven hundred bespoke cars each year for clients. Their highly skilled workforce designs and builds without computers, using the naked eye and expertise honed and practised over years. Much as the ways of working to be found at Morgan Motors and Worcester Bosch sit at opposite ends of the manufacturing spectrum, what they share reveals something about the power of brands: the fact that their customers understand – and prize highly – the kind of manufacturing and values each brand represents.
Visit to the National Composite Centre
After a drive down the M5 to Bristol, the third and last part of the trip was a visit to the National Composite Centre (NCC) in Bristol, where the focus is on Research & Development, specifically innovation in materials. Hollie Kirk, Impact and Partnership Development Manager for Future Focus with the University of Exeter, said:
They [the NCC] have an excellent programme in which SMEs can use labs and facilities to learn about the new composite materials coming down the track.
She also stressed how closely the University aims to work with businesses in Cornwall:
As part of Future Focus, the University is very keen to engage with manufacturers who can also come and access the labs and the expertise we have at the University.
Much as the quantifiable results of trips like this are clear – skills and processes seen, innovation and research discussed, etc. – delegates agreed that the harder-to-define sense of a constructive break was equally if not more important. The chance to get out of Cornwall and away from the business’s demands, to have time to think broadly, talk with peers, view your own business from a different perspective: all of these were seen as benefits of the trip and good reasons not just to recommend the experience to others, but to try and repeat it themselves.
They are also all reasons we run these programmes, and why we will continue to do so in 2022. If you think yours might be the kind of business which could benefit from an out-of-office experience like this, get in touch.