Member profile: Strathcarron And Company

25 February 2021 #Uncategorised

Tony Bowen, partner

Tell us a bit about your business. When were you founded, where are you based and how many people do you employ?

We were founded by Lord Strathcarron in 1960 to provide business development services for European component manufacturers to the UK automotive industry. This is still our core business today and we represent a diverse range of clients across the CV sector to help them achieve business growth objectives.

Our head office is in Dunstable, Bedfordshire and we have a team of eight people that serves component manufacturers and service providers in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

Our clients range from brake system manufacturers, light weight seating, forged aluminium and brass components, underfloor protection, critical fasteners, carbon fibre structural and aesthetic components to Industry 4.0 solution providers.

Our oldest client is a manufacturer of critical, standard and special fasteners, who have been with us for 45 years, and our largest is a brake system solutions provider who we have been supporting for over 20 years.

At present, we are working with a number of new OEM customers, some of whom are revolutionising how vehicles are manufactured. These range from a new EV company with a strong focus on the van and bus sector to niche manufacturers.

What does the business do?

We are a sales support organisation offering business development, project management and engineering support for our client base. Nearly all our clients don’t have a presence in the UK so come to us seeking local support through the design and development phases to Job 1 and beyond.

The partners and associates at Strathcarron have an extensive range of automotive industry experience from working for a number of UK OEMs such as McLaren, Bentley, Nissan, JLR to the likes of Ricardo Engineering. That’s great experience and results in a diverse range of expertise and contacts.

As well as helping our client base grow their businesses within the UK, we can also help UK companies grow their business in Europe or even globally.

We are one of the founding members of Global Alliance Automotive (GAA), which effectively creates a unique network of 18-20 Strathcarron sized companies dotted all around the globe, covering nearly all the global OEMs and the Tier 1s that supply into them.

How is business? What’s the outlook for the year ahead?

Business-wise, clearly things have suffered during the past 12 months due to the significant downturn in the UK automotive industry. We have seen positive signs of recovery from Q4 2020 and feel optimistic that 2021 will continue this trend, but we have to be realistic and accept that there will be some tough challenges over the next year or so as we also take stock of the impact of Brexit on our industry.

We’ve just signed two new client contracts, which is great news, and we’re in discussions with a substantial Japanese corporation and a young innovative British manufacturer focusing on the hydrogen fuel cell market, so the UK is still seen as a very important market and early adopter of new technologies and manufacturing processes.

What are the big issues or technological advances that fill you with positivity?

Clearly the future lies with the need to move to alternative fuels. There’s going to be a strong focus on vehicle light-weighting and the intelligent use of composite materials to provide cost effective solutions in line with new and innovative manufacturing methods.

There will also be the emergence of new and novel technologies for autonomous vehicles and also vehicle interiors. We are involved with a range of start-up companies through our GAA sister company. Examples are smart sensor touch materials for seating and door casing moulding applications, removing the need for multiple switches. There’s a lower cost, more effective alternative to lidar using a clever software utilising untethered sensors/cameras creating stereo vision and a 3D depth map, which can detect a brick in real time from 150m. Also graphene-based materials for load sensing floors for CV vehicles… the list goes on and is very exciting.

On a general closing note, for the CV market, like all automotive segments, success will come to those who can cost effectively marry new and innovative materials to the latest manufacturing processes and solutions. We’re positive the future will be bright for the industry in the UK.

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