Growth trajectory for specialist British manufacturing firm TBD stimulates investment strategy

Expenditure on infrastructure and capabilities at Bridgend factory enables specialist aviation ground support and maintenance access solutions provider to meet global surge in orders, and future-proof the business.

TBD, the British manufacturer renowned for professionally engineered ground support equipment and specialist access solutions for the global aviation industry, has responded to a 30% uplift in sales this year with a far-reaching investment programme.  Designed to fast-track scheduled process improvements and streamlined production in the manufacturing facility in Bridgend, the Company has invested more than £0.5m so far on new equipment and enhanced training for its engineers, technicians and designers.

Steve Meredith, CEO of TBD, explains his development strategy and the market forces behind it:

“TBD is committed to sustaining our reputation as a first class manufacturer of aviation ground support and maintenance equipment. With a pedigree that spans several decades we have consciously undertaken a policy to retain our UK production base because this ensures we not only retain complete control over quality, but we are also 100% in control of our deliveries to customers.  The airline industry is highly competitive and challenging and this approach is in stark contrast to many of our competitors in the UK and overseas who have moved production to Eastern Europe and Asia.

“Investment in our people, plant and equipment means that we are well placed to meet increased demand – and we have achieved approximately 30% growth in sales in the last twelve months.  This growth, which has been centred primarily on our ground handling equipment such as our new range of towable passenger stairs, baggage trailers and award-winning cargo dollies, can be attributed to many factors, but primarily we are seeing customers worldwide come to TBD because they know they can get the durability and quality they seek.  Many have suffered from poorly constructed equipment produced that may have seemed cheaper at the outset but constant repairs and unsuitability for the harsh environments in which they are expected to perform day in, day out soon negates any perceived savings. TBD draws from a significant heritage of carefully considered world-leading engineering expertise, and our products are designed, built and rigorously tested for optimum performance and longevity – customers need to trust not only the safety and strength of the equipment but also the engineering integrity of the design.”

TBD is also at the forefront of innovation. As aircraft maintenance heads towards a new technological chapter and service deliveries become even more focused on rapid turn around and higher capacity, the integral role played by support organisations like TBD needs to keep pace. Higher volume orders and greater demands on the equipment itself mean that all processes involved at source must evolve too.

TBD has invested progressively in robotically assisted manufacturing to increase output and stabilise product consistency resulting in performance that its customers can rely upon. This enables skilled engineers and technicians to focus on bespoke solutions and new product development.

Identifying what makes the difference to customers over the long term is at the heart of TBD’s success and Meredith says that the Company understands the provision of true value when it comes to capital investment in infrastructure and equipment, especially those items which are used non-stop with a lot of moving, co-dependent parts, and are clearly influenced by a strong human involvement.

“Well engineered ground support tools that can withstand changing weather, continue to be robust and fully functional in the hands of many users, and remain cost effective to maintain ensures a reduced total cost of ownership throughout the units’ lifecycles. Investing in TBD equipment ensures a relationship of on-time support delivery and minimised downtime across the service supply chain.”

HSBC UK has firmly supported TBD’s programme of investment and underpinned this phase of capital expenditure.  Warren Lewis, HSBC UK’s Head of Corporate Banking in South Wales, says that the bank’s confidence in TBD to deliver improved efficiencies and cost savings to keep ahead of increasing demand and deliver future growth is well-placed.

“Over the past year TBD has also evolved its business model to form strategic partnerships for long-term supply contracts with leading airlines, airport equipment lessors and large aircraft maintenance providers. Delivering this level of continuous supply matched with consistent quality has involved capital expenditure on manufacturing equipment and fast-paced technical training. We are pleased to have supported TBD through this important phase in its development and provided the financial backing the business needed to realise its growth plans.”