“We’re grateful for the existence of lenders such as ART. In today’s economic environment UK business more than ever need financiers with vision, who are prepared to take a calculated risk and support an entrepreneurial approach.”
KPM Marine is an innovative and dynamic small business, tucked away in the back streets of Birmingham, which exports its precision engineered products and parts around the world. It is a business, nurtured by Joint Managing Directors John Key and Julian Morgan, which has a history of adapting and evolving both to better serve existing markets and to enter new markets.
“We find ourselves competing with some of the world’s largest manufacturers,” says Julian, “and we win contracts because we offer a unique product, or the best quality, or because we have the capacity to design and innovate quickly to create something which precisely meets a customer’s needs.”
“Gone are the days of keeping half a dozen key customers supplied with parts for mass manufacture,” says John, “our customer base is much bigger and more fluid these days. We still make parts for the automotive industry and supply office products, but we moved into the marine sector around 15 years ago and have developed our product range to include bilge pumps, engine reventilation systems, seating systems and interior fit out modules. We are currently seeing a surge in demand for equipment for service vessels for the wind farm industry.”
Working capital is the lifeblood of small, design-led, businesses like KPM Marine and it can be particularly difficult to obtain from the banks, which tend to be risk-averse and more comfortable lending to larger businesses. Yet small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) – which make up around 99% of all businesses in the UK – need to take risks to survive and grow.
ART has supported KPM Marine with loan finance several times over the years, helping the business to bring new products to market, move to more efficient premises, protect and create jobs in Birmingham. “95% of our supply chain is based in Birmingham,” says Julian. “That is not only good for the local economy, but it also gives us greater flexibility, faster response times and better control over quality than sourcing products and materials from the Far East.”
Julian adds: “It is fair to say that without ART we wouldn’t exist as we do today. The latest ART loan has come from the Birmingham Small Business Loan Fund, which is being backed by Birmingham City Council. It has made a massive difference, enabling us to respond to the opportunities for growth created by the shifts in sterling and win major naval contracts oversees.”