Q&A: Andrew Clarke, MWS Weighing Solutions

Andrew Clarke

Birstall-based weighing systems business MWS Weighing Solutions was recently named Manufacturer of the Year at the East Midlands Chamber Awards. We spoke to commercial director Andrew Clarke to find out more.

What was the decisive factor that swung the Chamber award for you? What’s the secret of your success?

“We were pleased and surprised to win the award. The company has come a long way in the last 4-5 years. We only started entering awards a couple years ago, and having been award finalists a few times, we are delighted this is the first win.

“Of course, we didn’t see the applications we were up against so it’s difficult to say what put us above the rest, but a lot of hard work has gone into the business. We moved into a new factory this year, and we invest a lot in our apprenticeship scheme. The quality of the students coming from the Leicester and Loughborough colleges is fantastic – we’ve just taken on a lad from Birstall who’s learned to do things in two weeks that some people take years over. He will make a fantastic engineer.

“Creating local jobs is important to us. In the coming years I want to talk to more community colleges and play a bigger part in the local economy”.

Tell us about the company’s growth over the years

“My father started the company in his garage in 1994. He’d been in the industry for 25 years at that point.

“There was always a limit to what we could do at the garage. We couldn’t properly serve our larger clients when we were working from home, so we acquired premises and it snowballed from there. We took on two managers in 2005 who have become integral to the business. They run the manufacturing side while I handle the commercial side”.

What are your plans for the future?

“The new factory has already made a significant impact. More people know us and what we do.

“We’re the only company in our business that wants to invest in this way. Many others are consolidating.

“We’ve also changed tack somewhat in that we’re moving more towards trade. Our trade competitors used to be wary of us, but we actually want to work with them and are interested in forming strategic alliances.

“Our plans will always be focused on Leicester and the UK market, but we are looking to expand our export business into France and further abroad”.

Has the business been affected by Brexit?

“From a purely personal point of view, I see what happened as an opportunity. All I can do is focus on our own business, but there’s an opportunity for UK businesses to go out and promote themselves. British manufacturers are generally making good quality products, and that does carry some weight. We need to support ourselves”.

Do you think UK manufacturing is on the up?

“For me, in our industry it is, but I can’t speak for other manufacturers.

“At MWS we want to stay ahead of things. We continue to invest in new equipment and people, and I think other companies view us as a real success because of that”.