Be the best you can today, be better tomorrow

Uploaded 21 Nov @ 14:10pm

Reflecting on the growth and looking at the future of an award-winning advanced composite manufacturer, Pentaxia, one of the fastest growing composite manufacturers in the UK.

2021 will see the completion of Pentaxia’s brand new Aerospace Centre, which in itself may not seem that special, but given that the company only moved to its new site in January 2018 it is an impressive achievement. Since taking on the former Rolls-Royce 70,000 sq ft facility in Derby the company has gone from strength-to-strength and plans for the future will see the business turning over £25 million by 2025.
When Pentaxia took on the site, the main factory building was in a serious state of disrepair and the company has had to rebuild it to turn in into an effective production facility. And, despite it providing a successful working environment, works continue to adapt and improve production to ensure the space is fully utilised.
All of this is a long way from the company’s humble beginnings with three people in a small industrial unit and a single 5-axis CNC machine. What followed over the next 11 years has been a consistent growth with the company now employing over 150 skilled and knowledgeable. The move into composites in 2011 with the purchase of the company’s first autoclave has cemented the company’s position at the forefront of composite manufacture in the UK.
So, what has been the secret of Pentaxia’s success? Three things stand out: the continual reinvestment of profits back into the company; the in-house training programme offered, and the great team spirit and work ethic of the staff.

Continual Reinvestment
As the Pentaxia business has grown, so has its capabilities. The company headed up by Managing Director, Stephen Ollier, has adopted a dynamic approach to its investment strategy, expansion and growth often investing ahead of requirements. A duplication strategy underlines the business approach, so should any machinery require any unscheduled downtime or maintenance, the company has the capacity to continue manufacturing, minimising disruption and possible impacts on delivery lead time. Always being able to satisfy customer requirements is a key driver for this business.
This has led to recent investment in a research & development department working with robotics, initially with a project for a large aerospace company. As Stephen Ollier explains: “We believe the expansion of composites will move into the volume market and as such you need to look to technology for solutions. There will always be a place for hand layup in composites, but much of the expansion in the marketplace will come from automation because that will reduce costs and offset the benefit of outsourcing to low-cost countries.”

In House Training
One of the challenges faced in the composite industry is the lack of skilled and experienced people. The market growth has been so rapid that there are just insufficient resources to support the growth. Pentaxia has met this challenge head on and developed its own in-house training programme and was recently awarded the SEMTA SME Investment in Skills Award. This extensive training programme sees new recruits facing 3 to 6 months intensive training within a dedicated training unit before moving out into the main production area. This ongoing programme enables staff to develop and increase skills along the way. With recruitment currently standing at 5 new staff a month and plans for this to increase to 8, it will bring much needed people into the industry. Staff at all levels, from school leavers to graduates are all encouraged to meet their maximum potential and with a company policy to promote from within wherever possible, so Pentaxia offers great career prospects.

Team Spirit
It is no secret that one of the best assets of a company is its workforce and this is a key factor in the Pentaxia success story. As a family run business, Stephen Ollier feels strongly that the business should keep its ‘family feel’ despite the rapid growth in numbers. He makes a point of telling everyone on their first day with the company ‘You must enjoy coming to work. If you enjoy coming to work, the rest is easy’. The result of this is a great atmosphere across the site with a dedicated team all working towards the common goal of being the best composite company possible. With a team prepared to go the extra mile, Pentaxia is consistently able to achieve and exceed customers’ expectations.

Looking forward
The dedicated aerospace facility will see the company substantially increasing its civil and defence aerospace business. As the business is careful not to be reliant on any particular sector, the balance of work will come from luxury automotive and motorsport, areas where the company has vast experience and proven results in delivering great products and service to its prestigious customers.
Stephen Ollier believes that the composite market is only at the beginning of its development cycle, even though composites have been around for a long time. The urgent need to save energy will result in composites being used in ever wider applications and that will demand changes in both industry capacity and the technology used. He concludes: “We have worked hard to put a three and five year plan together, that not only covers the financial elements of the business, but also the technological needs. In that way we hope to be ready for the exciting future ahead. We really believe in being the best we can today and being better tomorrow.”

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