Find out how engaging with the Durham Business Opportunities Programme (DBOP) has helped Antony Gray grow his precision tool regrinding and manufacturing business securing over £250k funding, taking on more staff and making bespoke tools for ventilator production during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Renovo Solutions Limited are a bespoke precision cutting tool manufacturing and reconditioning business based on Tanfield North Industrial Estate in County Durham. They deliver a service that designs and manufactures bespoke tools and reconditions tools to the same standard as buying new.
This is the only service of its kind in the North East. Renovo’s brand offering “ReNew” service comes at a fraction of the cost of buying new tools, using the same machines used by Global Original Equipment Manufacturers’ (OEM) to ensure the highest quality finish in addition to producing a tool of the standard you would expect when buying new. Renovo help their customers increase their bottom line saving them money, increasing efficiency, boosting productivity and profitability.
Antony Gray, founder and managing director of Renovo Solutions Ltd started the company after little over two years ago after working as operations director for the largest independent cutting tool distribution company in the North East. Before Renovo, Antony would re-sell tools buying products from overseas and distributing them to customers across the North East and beyond. Antony spotted an opportunity to offer bespoke cutting tools manufacturing & reconditioning services and had a clear mission to bring tool manufacturing to the North East of England, something which has not existed before hand. That’s when Renovo was born and Antony sought the help of the DBOP programme.
The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year business support programme funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The programme aims to support County Durham business by linking them with opportunities for growth, understanding the challenges businesses face and above all, to simplify the support available to businesses helping them access the most relevant assistance for their business.
Antony initially met with DBOP business support officer Michael Harriott who provided Antony with details of a number of networks, funding options and business support programmes that would be beneficial for his fledgling business get off to a flying start.
One of the first things Antony needed to do was to raise finance to buy the right machinery to get the company off the ground. Michael introduced Antony to various companies at the time, one being NEL, working with Mike Guellard at NEL and the small loan fund, Antony secured a loan of £50,000 to place a deposit on the first ANCA FX5 linear grinding machine in the North East of England.
With capital in hand Antony required grant support for various other bits of supporting equipment this is when Michael at DBOP sign posted Antony to the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Project (SAM) where Renovo secured a grant of £10k to buy a specific compressor and coolant for the newly acquired Anca FX5 Linear allowing them to renew and manufacture tools in the North East.
Antony said: “The introduction to the SAM project really got the business moving. We needed to enter the market at the highest level and the grant from SAM helped us to buy supporting equipment for the Anca FX5 Linear which allowed us to provide a regrinding and bespoke tool manufacturing service that previously had not been available in the North East.”
Another important connection was with the DBOP supported Engineering and Manufacturing Network (EMN) – the organisation tasked with supporting the continued growth of the area’s engineering and manufacturing industries. This introduction led Renovo to participate in the DBOP funded ‘Incubator’’ programme. This programme provides early stage companies with the skills, marketing collateral and presentation skills needed to exhibit and win business at the Engineering and Manufacturing Conference (EMCON), the largest exhibition of its kind in the North East.
Since participating in the DBOP Incubator Zone Renovo have grown exponentially taking on more staff and more business. Most recently employing the only female cutting tool manufacturing apprentice in the North East. Renovo are an innovative forward thinking company and one of Antony’s core principles when starting the company was to introduce young tool makers to the industry, so brining on board a female engineer into a male dominated sector demonstrates this intent. During COVID-19 the business was involved in a project to manufacture cutting tools for ventilator production, as well as making tools to increase the speed of production of hospital beds for the Nightingale Hospitals across the UK.
Antony said: “The support and signposting has been fundamental to our rapid growth and development. The help received from the DBOP programme has enabled us to speed up our business development in a more efficient way. Our participation in the Incubator Zone has undoubtedly helped to get us where we are today.”
As Renovo won more business, they needed to upgrade their machinery further still to increase efficiency and productivity. Michael reintroduced Antony to the North East Loans Fund and from that Renovo submitted a successful funding application for £100,000 this loan alongside an additional capital grant application for £90,000, this time with the Rural Development Programme for England. This capital was critical to allowing investment in a fully autonomous industry 4.0 ANCA FX7+ Linear grinding machine. The new machine is of a higher specification allowing the precision tooling business to offer a better service to customers that is more powerful and includes in-process measurement checking ,robot loading of tools and wheel packs and overnight production capabilities.
Renovo’s mission is to increase its customers bottom line. For example, Renovo designed a tool for County Durham based Dyer Engineering that enabled one machine to do the job of four generating time and efficiency savings.
Business Development Officer for DBOP Lisa Wall commented: “DBOP is all about helping businesses spot opportunities for growth and simplifying the business support landscape while identifying the most relevant funding, support and other opportunities for growth.
The programme has worked with Antony since the business started, helping to identify relevant funding, business support programmes and networks that have enabled Renovo grow and develop. It’s an exciting time for the business and Business Durham look forward to working with Antony now and in the future”
Looking to the future Renovo hope to continue to grow, employing more people, serving more customers and fundamentally helping manufacturing and engineering businesses in the North East to become more profitable.
*The Durham Business Opportunities Programme is a six-year programme for SMEs running up until November 2022, helping County Durham businesses spot opportunities for sustainable growth. It is funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered by Business Durham, the business support service for Durham County Council, helping to deliver more and better jobs and a strong competitive economy.
For more info on Renovo Solutions Ltd click here.