Nethercoats, joinery and interior structures manufacturer

Advice helps an interiors manufacturing business to future proof itself

After receiving expert advice from MAS Yorkshire and Humber, Halifax based Nethercoats have been able to successfully move with the times through intensive training throughout the business.

Founded over 50 years ago, Halifax-based joinery and interior structures manufacturer, Nethercoats has received much needed expert advice and support from the Manufacturing Advisory Service Yorkshire & Humber (MAS Y&H) to assist the business to successfully move with the times.

With a current turnover of £3.6m, Nethercoats employs 42 people (including six apprentices) and mainly subcontracts its services through Design and Build practices and architects. Recent projects include dynamic car showrooms, commercial environments, hotels and restaurants.

Last July, Jacqui Withnell (who previously owned and ran a Design and Build business) joined forces with Jon Stanger who has worked at Nethercoats for 22 years, firstly as an apprentice joiner studying furniture design and working in different roles within the business before becoming joint managing director 8 years ago.

It quickly became apparent to the entrepreneurial duo that, although the family run company had built up an enviable reputation for the work its master craftsman produced, many aspects of the business were sadly out of date and a lack of leadership training, development and understanding of the business existed amongst the middle management tier. It was evident that the ingrained culture, lack of accountability together with ineffective styles and practices were suffocating the business and disabling it from moving forward in a challenging changing external environment. One of their first steps was to appoint Helen Thain, as finance director, to get to grips with the financial systems. This was swiftly followed by inviting MAS advisor, Brian Sainsbury from PDA Management Consultants to have a look at the business.

Following a diagnostic review, Brian confirmed that there were no systems or processes in place and old-fashioned methods, which urgently needed to be tackled. MAS together with the new senior management team, carried out a strategic review of the company structure as well as an assessment of current team competences. This led to an intensive training process throughout the business, which initially met with a degree of opposition from the middle management team. In other areas, training and development resulted in team leader positions being created on the shop floor and has led to the workforce becoming more empowered and settled in their roles.

Following a management buy out by Jon, Jacqui and Helen in January 2009, the last original family member retired from the business. Since then, Brian has continued to visit the company to mentor the management team and regularly review the company‟s objectives against plan.

Jacqui said: “External consultants can be of real benefit to any company especially if they challenge the norm. We really value Brian‟s input, he now sits in on our board meetings and is a brilliant ‘sounding board’ bringing real value to our business.”

Jon added: “The business has been transformed beyond belief over the last 8 months. We do not think of ourselves as just a joinery company anymore, we have a new stronger team who are motivated to make the business a success. We truly are a manufacturing business ‘bringing great design to life’ by creating interior structures to meet the needs of today‟s businesses.”

Brian said: “The past year has been a difficult journey for Nethercoats and the new management team has responded well to the challenges by taking the necessary decisions to ensure the future sustainability of the business. The MAS Mentoring scheme has been extremely useful in supporting the business through the various changes.”