Barnsley company with roots in mining outgrows new premises

A Barnsley manufacturing company set up 20 years ago to make tool belts for miners is already beginning to outgrow new premises, having hit the £1 million turnover mark.

Sewing and light fabrication company, MB Products, spent half a million pounds on a bigger factory to accommodate its growing workload eight months ago. But such has been the demand for its highly specialised products that father and son team, Roger and Richard Godfrey are already looking at possible future expansion.

The company moved to its new 16,000 square foot factory in Wombwell last summer. It took on five new employees with the re-location from Parkgate, Rotherham, bringing the total to 22.

Its move and expansion has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Council

MB Products Ltd, founded in 1991, grew out of the old Manvers Belt Shop, which was part of the British Coal Workshops at Elsecar. Then, the production of miners’ belts and explosive carriers accounted for 100 per cent of its turnover; it is now just one per cent.

The company still manufactures the belts out of conveyor belt material, but makes dozens of other products including 15,000 wheelchair cushions for the NHS a year and 20,000 specialist industrial drip mats, called Plant Nappies, for nearby Manvers Engineering Ltd.

MB Products also makes specialist products such as pouches to carry radios for the army, and large-scale bivvy sheets, shooting chair components and gun slips for outdoor equipment companies. Its niche market is working with entrepreneurs wanting prototypes of new products that need sewing or light fabrication.

Managing director Roger said: “Diversity is our strength. We have some key customers, such as the NHS and MOD, but we have the capacity to expand production even more and are already questioning whether the new premises are large enough.”

Roger Godfrey of MB Products

Roger, a former mining engineer, said: “Our growth is down to our ability to develop and deliver products which meet our customers’ needs. I got used to solving problems during my time in mining, and this approach has continued through to the new business.”

Roger’s son Richard joined the company ten years ago and turnover and staff numbers have gradually increased.

“We used to be a family company, but we have grown and grown,” said Roger. “We then realised we needed help so that’s when we turned to Enterprising Barnsley. They have been fantastic. They helped us focus and give us more of a professional look, as well as helping with the move.”

Enterprising Barnsley offers a wide range of free business support to small and medium-sized business with growth potential. The programme is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £3,015,276 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

Shaun Higginbottom, of Enterprising Barnsley, said: “We are delighted that the company moved back in to Barnsley and are doing so well.

“This is a brilliant success story. It just shows how old skill-based industries like sewing, which used to predominantly supply the mining industry can be adapted to supply new customers in new sectors.”

MB Products has been given free support by Enterprising Barnsley in areas ranging from marketing to human resources.

They also helped them secure a grant from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership’s Business Growth Programme, which is supported by the government’s Regional Growth Fund. The £50,000 grant supported the company’s move to Barnsley.

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