Robin dropped into CAP furnace spares on the Weir Lane industrial estate last Friday to hear how a local family owned business has grown rapidly over recent years and is reaching markets as far afield as India, the US and Guyana. He met with Managing Director Gavin Prosser to hear how he had taken the business, started by his father, from 4 employees to 16 and met with a number of the people working there including the bright young apprentice who is already playing a vital role as office manager. He also discussed how the scale-up agenda can help a company like this to boost its growth and create more jobs.
The firm was founded by Alf Prosser, a former Morgan Crucible employee who decided that there was a market for furnace spares and set out to build his own business. They already occupy two units on the Weir Lane estate and are soon to take on a third. Along with the thriving trade in specialist industrial furnaces they are also now making stone pizza ovens for both commercial and domestic use. Robin saw one of these being tested outside the factory and discussed how demand for these products has taken off.
Mr Prosser had contacted Robin to let him know that the company had been helped in its expansion by Government schemes such as the Manufacturing Advisory Service and apprenticeships and to ask how, now that it is beginning to become established, it could be helped to grow further. The MP, who served on the BIS Select Committee in the last Parliament was able to recommend a number of scale up and growth schemes for the company to explore, connect them with UKTI, Worcestershire Business Central and the LEP.
They discussed the importance of quality apprenticeship schemes and mentoring to support apprentices so that they have the motivation to complete their training. Robin saw how the firm was offering progression to their current apprentice, Michelle Beaumont, even before she had fully completed her course, due to the strong work ethic and organisational skills she had demonstrated. He also heard how they had taken on former employees of metal box when that historic local name closed down in Worcester a few years ago. At the time, Robin had visited the employees facing redundancy and written to a large number of local firms to urge them to consider taking them on.
Robin pointed out to Mr Prosser that Worcester has a proud tradition in the furnace trade, with local man Dud Dudley having been one of the pioneers of the industrial revolution with his invention of new smelting techniques in the Seventeenth Century. He backed the company’s drive to reach new markets and welcomed its success at making pizza ovens for people ranging from top chefs, through restaurant chains to domestic kitchens.
Speaking after his visit Robin said:
“Our Government is aiming to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business and it is family businesses such as this one that really demonstrate what that can mean. It is hugely exciting to see a small business of this sort going from strength to strength and breaking in to new markets. I want to make sure that all the initiatives that Government is taking to support small businesses join up to help businesses like this one and that means listening to the feedback from them. The opportunities for skills and employment are simply huge if we can get businesses such as this one to scale up.”
“I was delighted to meet not only the founder and the boss of CAP Furnaces, but also employees and the apprentice who are sharing in the success story of its growth. It is wonderful that four centuries on from the dawn of the industrial revolution, Worcester is still playing a leading role in furnace technology, that has industrial and commercial uses. It is amazing to think that pizza ovens made in Worcester are finding their way around the world and may even break into the Italian market if this success continues. I want to see local businesses such as this one succeed and that is why I will keep pushing for business friendly policies from the Government.”
Notes to editors:
For more information on CAP Furnace Spares see:
For the Scale-up report that Robin has promoted in parliament see:
For Worcestershire Business Central see:
For UKTI in the West Midlands see:
For the story of Dud Dudley and his invention of coking coal see: