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Last March, unprecedented times called for unprecedented measures, with the government announcing financial support packages to help both businesses and individuals as the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Fast-forward to March 2021, and the budget highlighted that we are still in the emergency phase of the pandemic, with a focus on securing an economic recovery and ensuring business stability.

JJ Smith, the UK’s leading supplier of woodworking and offsite construction machinery, were particularly thrilled with the budget’s focus on new machinery investment. Beginning April 2021, the Government is investing £25bn in the UK’s future growth & prosperity. Through the 130% super-deduction, companies can cut their taxes by up to 25p for every pound they invest in new machinery. If a company were to invest £50,000 in new machinery, they would reduce their taxable income by £65,000. This provides a fantastic opportunity for UK businesses to invest in new machinery that will enable them to be more productive, innovative or efficient while simultaneously reducing their corporation tax liabilities.

Managing Director Martin Smith said “JJ Smith welcomes the focus in the budget on investment in the construction industry as a key driver for jobs and prosperity in the UK. In particular as a leading supplier through its subsidiary company Modular Building Automation of automated equipment solutions for the offsite sector. Being the only offsite construction machinery supplier in the UK, MBA company is well placed to assist businesses large and small looking to innovate in this sector.”

“Ben has shown a fantastic aptitude for engineering over the course of his apprenticeship and we’re very proud of all that he has achieved. He is a real asset to the company and he has a bright future ahead of him.”

Furthermore, JJ Smith are a family business based in Knowsley who strongly believe in the benefit of apprenticeships and are proud to provide employment and training opportunities to local people. Pictured above is rising star Ben Pybus who has just completed his apprenticeship and is now a fully qualified engineer. “Ben has shown a fantastic aptitude for engineering over the course of his apprenticeship and we’re very proud of all that he has achieved. He is a real asset to the company and he has a bright future ahead of him” said Dave Moore, Operations Manager. The announcement of the plan for additional £126 million for 40,000 more traineeships in England is good news for young people. This will fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24 year olds in 2021/22 academic year. As well as this there is an extension of the apprenticeship hiring incentive in England to September 2021 and an increase of payment to £3,000. JJ Smith currently employ five apprentices and endeavour to hire two new apprentices every year, so welcome the incentives for companies like theirs to continue to offer opportunities to young people to start their careers.

Commercial Director, Rachael Baker said: “There are a number of announcements in the budget that we welcome. The Modern Methods of Construction Taskforce is good news. We are proud to supply machinery to the offsite construction industry and welcome the increased focus on this construction method. The super-deductions on capital investments in machinery assets provides a fantastic opportunity for UK businesses to invest in new woodworking machinery that will enable them to be more productive. We welcome the Liverpool City Region Freeport status and the possibilities that easier trading could bring to us as a company, and the increased apprenticeship funding is excellent too.”

Bolton based Heatrod Industrial announces the acquisition of GrayBar Ltd, a specialist manufacturer of products for the rail industry, based in Wellingborough, Northants. This latest acquisition further consolidates Heatrod’s position in the electric heating market, the official date of the acquisition being 26th January 2021.

Heatrod is part of the Nibe Element (The world’s largest heating element manufacturer) and represents Nibe in the UK. The acquisition will become part of the Nibe Rail group working closely with the team at Denmark based San Electro heat, one of Nibe’s specialist rail divisions.

Says Simon Ellam, Managing Director of Heatrod, “At Heatrod Industrial we continue to build our portfolio of industrial heating products and services. Graybar fit our profile of engineered heating solutions and products with approvals and certifications that are well proven within the rail sector. We are looking forward to working with the wider Nibe group and our colleagues in Denmark to further develop our presence in the UK rail market.”

“Being part of the Manufacturers Alliance has supported our Operations Manager, John Cole, to grow his day to day responsibilities within the company, allowing me to focus on external activities to continue building the business.”

Since the formation of GrayBar in 1991 by Graeme Ford and his wife Susan Ford, the specialist rail company has successfully designed and manufactured many innovative products, leading the way in Points and Heating, and GRP Distribution Systems, with sales per annum of circa £1.2m and a regular operating profit of 10%.

GrayBar collaborate closely with Network Rail and leading contractors, to be the only UK supplier of Self Regulating Points Heating Systems, plus cutting edge Signalling Distribution Systems and the largest range of Rail Approved Cable Accessories in the industry for use on UK, Irish and European rail, underground and tramway infrastructure. The 15 strong team offer full in-house design, engineering and commissioning packages along with a 10 year guarantee on all their Self Regulating Heaters plus with a wide range of PADS approved products.

Says Graeme Ford, “I am delighted to see Graybar, a company I formed back in the early 1990’s, now being a valuable part of the NIBE Group. I also look forward to the future, continuing the growth of Graybar, using our strong product base in the rail industry, added together within the strength of the group to further enhance the business opportunities for us all. We have an exciting time ahead and my wife Susan and I are very much looking ahead in supporting the business activities.”

Macclesfield-based Autac Products Ltd has once again teamed up with Manchester-based Prevent Breast Cancer to raise funds in support of breast cancer awareness.

The third-generation cable manufacturer has specially developed a pink EV cable to launch the appeal, with 5% of the net sales price of every pink cable donated to Prevent Breast Cancer’s vital work. It is the only charity in the UK to fund ground-breaking research solely aimed at preventing breast cancer for future generations.

Pink – a colour often associated with love – was undoubtedly the perfect choice for the new cables, which marry a love of the planet with the desire to protect loved ones from the harm caused by breast cancer.

It’s the second time that Autac MD, David Lowe, and Director of Prevent Breast Cancer, Nikki Barraclough, have worked together to raise funds. In 2019, together with Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor, and other intrepid business people and supporters of the charity, they took on the Everest Base Camp Trek challenge. Collectively, they raised an impressive £132k for the charity. It made perfect sense that David and Nikki should team up again to raise awareness and funds once more.

As David explains, “I and my wife Sallie, who partners me in the business as the Finance Director, are both really passionate about supporting Prevent Breast Cancer. Sallie’s sister, Julie, sadly lost her 4-year battle with the disease at the age of only 51.

“The intention was always to continue our fundraising with vigour in 2020 but the pandemic had other ideas. It meant we needed to focus on our essential business status and produce the cables to keep the UK’s fleets of vital grocery supplies on the road. We can only apologise that there’s been a dip in our fundraising efforts, particularly as charities like Prevent Breast Cancer are being hit so hard by the pandemic.

“Creating a pink EV cable seemed a perfect way to mark a new stage in supporting the charity. We encourage everyone with an EV vehicle – from the private one-vehicle owner to the retailers, manufacturers and companies with entire fleets – to help support this worthwhile cause.”

Gary Sheader, Managing Director at the Manufacturers Alliance, shared his thoughts on Autac’s recent fundraiser, “David and Sallie Lowe are what epitomises a small family run business with a big heart. They are prepared to take risks and work hard to provide jobs for others, while at the same time using the business to make a difference in the community. It’s a great example of what businesses can do to support other causes while running a successful business”.

Nikki adds, “The pandemic has resulted in a dramatic drop in our income and the support of companies is more important now than ever before.

We are delighted to be partnering with Autac and excited to see how many cables we can sell. The funds raised will support our vital research, and help the charity to continue its work raising awareness of the signs and symptoms and the different risk factors of this devastating disease.”

The cables can be bought individually or in large quantities from Autac.