A Norfolk manufacturing firm is confident that two Japanese business philosophies can drive forward greater efficiencies and boost its bottom line.

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Teknomek is a leading producer of stainless steel equipment and furniture servicing industries ranging from food processing, healthcare and pharmaceutical, where hygiene standards and sterile conditions are a top priority.

The vast product range includes tables, desks, shelving, wash troughs and waste bins.

Managing director Stephen Mallett, who joined the business three months ago following a switch from the automotive industry, is driving through the introduction of a “continuous improvement” programme based on two Japanese models, “kanban” and “kaizan” or “then and there” and “little-by-little”.

The company has also recently taken on an apprentice welder and is looking to take on two more this year, while also looking beyond its traditional core business to find new customers –including a partnership within the dairy industry.

Key to the changes are daily meetings where the 47 staff discuss key objectives and performance – both positive and negative – as well as an overhaul of its warehousing and stock systems to make them more streamlined.

Mr Mallett initially took over on an interim basis to help parent company AH Worth Ltd find a new MD before acceptiong the job full-time.

“We have got a good business model – we don’t take on what we can’t do,” he said. “We do lots of small runs. Historically we have been a very reactive business.

“What we want to do is introduce continuous improvement,” he added. “Every morning we have meetings to discuss what issues we have got. Everybody in the business now knows exactly what we are doing and where we are.

“It really is a change in the culture. It’s not new. If you go to Japan, it’s automatic. We are on the road to doing it, it’s not just for the shop floor, this is for the business.

“It’s more efficient, the girls in the office don’t have 30 invoices, they have one,” he added.

The firm, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year, has an annual turnover of £5m and employs 47 staff at its base in Brunel Way on the Sweetbriar Industrial Estate in Norwich.

“We are hoping to put about 20pc on that over the next two years, through a mixture of organic growth, new products and new markets.

“We are probably looking at relationships with other people and partnerships with businesses where we complement each other.”

4 comments

  • Enzo, Mr Mallett as actually been in control for alot longer than three months. I can't remember exactly when it was, but it must be more lke eight or nine months. Since that time, as your previous comment, there have been redundacy's of key personnel & the 4 day week saga! If i were you Mr Worth, i don't think it would be wise to give Mr Mallett a year, heaven only knows what damage he could do! Having said that, Mr Worth & wise decisions don't generally fall into the same sentence!

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    Mr Welder

    Monday, February 25, 2013

  • Mr welder I think you comments would have validity if the MD had been in charge for a year or so but he has only been in control for three months it will take time to turn things around, after a year you would have a point and in that case he should be shown the door. It is very refreshing that to see that someone has the foresight to embrace new ideas and to use the Japanese business philosophy is inspiring. I do think that AH Worth Ltd is also using Japanese ideal of Seppuku in appointing Mr Mallet as MD.

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    Enzo

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

  • I would like to to congratulate Mr Mallet on his achievements, it is fantastic to think that a Norwich based company is doing so well and can predict a 20pc growth in the coming year. Considering that it was only 6 months ago the the same company had reduced its marketing department by 50 percent and the design department by the same and had made two of the upper management personal redundant, also to make this bold claim only four weeks after the 47 members of staff had been told that they had to go onto a four day week is not to be underestimated. I wonder if the Japanese have a word for this sort of claim.

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    Enzo

    Friday, February 22, 2013

  • We Have a good business model?? Unfortunately the current Managing Director & the extensive board of directors lack the intelligence to assemble all the pieces to complete the model. The one & only reason the girls have less invoices to do, is due to a lack of orders. The best way for Teknomek to achieve continuous improvement would be for AH Worth to sell the business back to the previous owner!

    Report this comment

    Mr Welder

    Friday, February 22, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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