Post Business Awards
Jan 23 2008 By Tom Scotney.
 
GME springs ahead with new invention
Warwickshire vehicle parts manufacturer GME Springs has been named as the January winner of The Birmingham Post Business Award.

Managing director Rob Gerrard was given the award by John Edwards, chief executive of Advantage West Midlands, which hosted yesterday's award ceremony. Mr Gerrard said it was great for his company - and the industry - to get recognition for the success they had seen over the past year.

And GME, based in Foleshill, could be on the road to even greater success if its "world beating" new invention takes off.

Mr Gerrard and his team have developed a new kind of spring-based barrier to replace and improve on crash barriers running alongside motorways. The design is patented, and is currently undergoing rigorous tests at the MIRA automotive testing site at Nuneaton, at a cost of £20,000 a day to GME.

But if it passes, the new "safety flex" design could mean millions in lucrative highway contracts for GME, with road authorities across the world showing an interest.

Using spring-based barriers on motorways means they are not bent out of shape as much in a crash, and do less damage to the vehicle.

Mr Gerrard came up with the idea when trying to stop one of his workers in a forklift truck damaging property on the GME site.
If released, the product will mark the first time that GME has moved out of the vehicle parts business, and could give a huge boost to the profitability of the company. Last year the firm made an estimated pre-tax profit of £1.2 million, on a turnover of more than £8.5 million, although this figure includes an abnormally high amount of research and development spent on new spring-based designs.

Mr Gerrard said the success of the company was based on its constant willingness to diversify, and its ability to offer a tailored individual service.

He said: "We're probably one of the few spring businesses still going in this country, almost certainly the last family-owned one.
"We've been in the business for 40-plus years, and we've been designing for 10 now. This is the next stage.

"One of the advantages of our position is that we're able to offer a very personalised service. If you go to a company in China you have to buy a shipful of springs, you can't just get them done individually for a fleet of 250 cars."

In December last year GME signed a £500,000 deal with Warwick-based Dennis Eagle to supply front and back suspension springs for their fleet of refuse lorries.

GME was established in 1971 as an automotive repair company and diversified when it had trouble sourcing suspension parts. It now employs 30 people.The main sponsors of The Birmingham Post Business Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Champagne Taittinger.
Flybe and Aston Business School provide further support, along with Biz-tv, part of Aston Media at Aston University, which produces a business video of each monthly winner worth £2,500.

And Warwickshire County Cricket Club provides a private box for one of their day/night games. Yorkshire Bank sponsors the end of series presentation event and also provides its city centre meeting facilities as a prize for the overall winner.

  Marcus Gerrard,
GME Springs, with the
January award
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