A North Staffordshire company, which is ‘keeping technology alive for longer’, is heading for a record year after it tapped into specialist support.
TMT First Limited has used expert advice and guidance from the Manufacturing Growth Programme to put in place a major expansion strategy that will look to build on an operation that repairs more than 200,000 mobile phones, tablets, accessories and laptops for businesses and consumers every year.
This has seen it expand the firm from £9m in 2020 to its current level of £16m, with the very real prospect of hitting £19.5m by the end of the next financial year, almost doubling the workforce to 144 people at its base in Newcastle-under-Lyme.
At the heart of its success has been the introduction of its ‘Eco Repair’ service, which can now replace just the screen on the mobile phone without needing to also replace the aluminium frame and the battery.
“Environmental sustainability is integral to what we do, so, if we can keep technology alive for longer, that will help our sector cut emissions,” explained Adam Whitehouse, founder of TMT First.
“For example, 83% of mobile phone CO2 emissions comes from the manufacture, shipping and first-year usage of them. Our Eco Repair means it is a lot to easier to repair and then have the model back with the customer without the need for a new one.”
He continued: “I can’t speak highly enough of the support and grants we received from the Manufacturing Growth Programme; it really has made a major difference to our expansion plans.”
MGP, which was funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Oxford Innovation Advice, worked with TMT First to identify barriers to growth and put in place a strategic plan to overcome these.
This involved bringing in expert consultants to look at internal processes and then, importantly, how to explore and convert £multi-million opportunities around prolonging the life of technology.
A strategy to rapidly scale was agreed, and this gave the business first mover advantage in the UK and the structure to provide its Eco Repair service to Samsung initially with view to attracting other mobile phone manufacturers going forward.
Adam, who trained as a pilot before starting TMT First, went on to add: “Without the financial support and guidance provided by Manufacturing Growth Programme, it would have been much more difficult for us get to where we are today, and some of the opportunities realised may never even have happened.
“When we first started working together we were only on £9m turnover and 80 staff, that figure is set to rise to £19.5m and we’ve just taken on our 144th member of the team.”
TMT First, which is a Samsung Authorised Repair Partner, is now urging local authorities in charge of UK Shared Prosperity Funds to make sure the tailored supported offered by MGP doesn’t go to waste.
“Industry needs more than just general business advice and guidance. We need someone who understands our sector, what the challenges are and the sort of help that will really make a difference. We’d love to see the Manufacturing Growth Programme continue in North Staffordshire.”
The Manufacturing Growth Programme was the UK’s largest and leading business support programme for SME manufacturers.
The initiative secured nearly £15 million in grants for 4300 companies over the last three years, creating and safeguarding over 12,000 jobs in the process.
With ERDF funds now phased out, MGP has come to an official end and is exploring how the ‘essential lifeline for small to medium-sized manufacturers’ can be incorporated into the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
Phillip Somers, Manufacturing Growth Manager, concluded: “It has been a real pleasure supporting TMT First over the past few years and seeing Adam’s commitment and passion for the company as it grows rapidly.
“It’s a perfect example of how targeted support can unlock potential, creating wealth and jobs for people in North Staffordshire.”