Succession planning proves crucial as Alloy Wire International heads for record year

One of the UK’s leading manufacturers of round, flat and profile wire is on course to celebrate a record year – less than twelve months on from a MBO designed to protect the ‘unique values’ of the business.

Alloy Wire International, which was formed in the Black Country more than 77 years ago, has seen sales rocket by £3m since the deal was completed in January, taking turnover to £18m with the prospect of it breaking £20m in 2024.

Demand from customers in more than 63 countries has been behind the initial boost, but the now Chairman Mark Venables is adamant that the firm’s commitment to extending the employee-ownership of the company – and the culture this brings with it – will drive the ongoing success.

The former Managing Director is delighted with the decision the management team took two years ago to look for the future owners from within, with long-term staff members Tom Mander, Adam Shaw and Andrew Du Plessis leading the successful MBO.

A complex process was made easier by expert advice from Dudley-based Acorn Support, who provided an external sounding board for the decision-making and put in place psychometric testing to identify key personalities, emotional behaviour traits and ability to work in a team.

“We knew we had some very talented individuals in the business, and it was always our ‘gut feeling’ that the next owners would come from within. The work we did with Acorn gave us a clear insight into future roles and the confidence that Tom, Adam and Andrew had the necessary skills, personalities and characters to make it work.

“This accelerated succession planning and led to the MBO, which has proved an overwhelming success. Alloy Wire International is in very safe hands and, importantly, has a management team in place that has new ideas and new innovations that will continue to facilitate our growth, whilst also staying true to our ‘employee-owned’ culture that has governed the last seventy-seven years.”

Founded in 2009, Acorn Support works with directors, managers and their teams to help each individual shine, be their best and deliver results for their companies.

Owner Claire Lawton held several thought-provoking conversations with AWI before bringing in Jackie Casey Consulting to help with defining the roles of the future board of directors.

“These descriptions helped identify areas of success for the business now and in the longer-term, not to mention highlighting the characteristics each role required,” explained Claire.

“We profiled each senior manager using a psychometric personality assessment and provided feedback that gave them the opportunity to learn more about their personality traits, their strengths and preferences when working together. It also highlighted how their personality impacted on their emotions and behaviours in the workplace and provided a common language for working together as a team.”

She continued: “The reports were then matched against the pre-defined job descriptions for the new board of directors, making it clear to see the alignment of the team to their potential roles and areas for development.

“It also helped Mark Venables identify his own skill requirements, so that he would be ready to hand over the reins as Managing Director and transition into the role of Chairman.”

Alloy Wire International was able to make the senior appointments it wanted 12 months earlier than expected and with 100% confidence the right decisions were being made.

In fact, their progression to the next stage did not take long with a full Management Buy-Out completed in January this year.

Tom Mander, Managing Director of AWI, concluded: “The first eleven months have gone better than expected and we’ve put some exciting plans in place, including a £500,000 investment drive in new machinery that will boost our capacity and ability to continue to deliver 3-week lead times on our range of 62 High Performance alloys.

“Every member of our 33-strong team are owners of this business, and this translates into how ‘we do manufacturing differently’.”

For further information, please visit www.alloywire.com or acornsupport.co.uk

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