High-gloss paint technology is proving a shining success for a Staffordshire automotive supplier.
An £8.5 million investment in a research and development programme and new equipment at Maier UK’s plant in Burntwood has resulted in a massive increase in turnover and the creation of 70 new jobs.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership contributed £1.12million to the project, via the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. This has helped Maier UK increase its technological capabilities and manufacture new, high‐performance exterior automotive plastic parts, with a high-gloss finish.
The innovative painting process for inner and outer car components produces a sleeker, higher quality and more hard-wearing finish, which is much sought after in the luxury and premium vehicle segment of the automotive market.
Maier UK’s first customer for its new premium products was Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury brand, which is built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant. Since then Maier UK, part of the Spanish-based Maier group, has been selected as a Tier 1 supplier to Jaguar Land Rover, and will be supplying parts for the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, as well as for a new vehicle currently being developed by JLR. The firm also supplies a wide range of other manufacturers with a variety of conventional and high-gloss plastic components.
Maier UK sales and marketing manger Paul McArdle said: “We identified that the trend in Western Europe was to the luxury and premium end of the automotive market and we had to invest in order to respond and take our products to the next level.
“Without this investment, these new products for UK car manufacturers would have had to be made in our Spanish factory, not right here in Burntwood.”
Maier UK worked with Cranfield University to develop the new high-gloss paint, which has improved scratch-resistance and also brings environmental and energy-saving benefits in its production.
Maier UK started production at its premises in Attwood Road, Burntwood, in 2000, achieving an initial annual turnover of £2 million. By 2008 this had increased to £15 million, and by last year it had more than doubled from the 2008 figure to stand at £31 million.
Before the new investment, in 2014, the Burntwood site employed 150 people, plus 50 agency staff. Today, thanks to booming business, it has 220 permanent employees alongside the 50-strong agency contingent.
“It is very important for us to keep looking to the future, responding to a changing market, investing in R&D and investing in our staff,” Mr McArdle said.
“The Growth Fund has made a huge difference to what we have been able to achieve and investing in R&D and new technology means we are well placed and equipped to continue to grow and respond to a changing marketplace.”
Maier UK MD Urko Zelaia commented: “Maier is a company that invests in people and has a strong programme of internal promotion within the business, reinforced by training and capacity plans to increase skills.
“The Maier parent company is a cooperative, rather than a conventional business, so an important part of our ethos is also to look after the local community by sharing 2% of our profits in social projects within the community.”
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “Maier UK’s success is an excellent example of the way the private and public sector are working together in our region to encourage investment in new technologies and raise skills levels.
“This forward-thinking, can-do attitude is having a real impact in bringing more and better jobs to the area, growing our economy and creating thriving communities.”
Urko Zelaia is pictured, left, with Paul McArdle at Maier’s Burntwood factory.