Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gareth Transformed Ailing Business into a Thriving Success; Jez Davison Discovers How Gareth Thomas Transformed the Fortunes of a Teesside Manufacturer That Was Weeks from Going out of Business

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Gareth Transformed Ailing Business into a Thriving Success; Jez Davison Discovers How Gareth Thomas Transformed the Fortunes of a Teesside Manufacturer That Was Weeks from Going out of Business

Article excerpt

IT'S not every day that the Prime Minister drops by to have a chat but that's exactly what happened to Gareth Thomas.

Last month David Cameron took his election campaign to Teesside, and his route included a visit to Icon Plastics, the Eaglescliffe precision engineering firm taken over by Gareth in 2008 - the same year the financial crash battered Britain's shores.

Together they chewed the fat about the economy, Teesside industry and the value of apprenticeships - but it's a conversation that should never have taken place.

Back in 2008 Gareth inherited a business that was making losses of more than PS100,000. Without his foresight and business acumen, not to mention the engineering excellence of his staff, the company would not be here today.

Gareth says: "It just wasn't a viable business and would have closed its doors within two or three months.

"We had eight staff working three days a week and a really uncertain future. I knew we had to act quickly to turn it around.

"I raised about PS60,000 of capital by selling assets, and although I didn't have to sell my house, I had to put security on it. For a while I lived off credit cards.

"It was a difficult time, especially with a wife and three kids to support."

He quickly stripped out inefficiencies and created new monitoring mechanisms that gave a clearer picture of financial performance and staff activities. And when the whirlwind financial crash blew competitors out of the water, he was in pole position to swoop on their customers.

The effect was immediate, with Icon breaking even within months and eventually making a profit.

As the business grew, new product lines were introduced, investments made in cutting-edge moulding equipment and new markets opened up in China and Eastern Europe.

Now the business is sailing in much smoother waters, with a 38-strong team of staff generating a profit on annual sales of PS3m.

The work is spread across several sectors - electronics, healthcare, agriculture and construction among them - while products range from electronic tags for sheep to casings for energy meters. …

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