Roy Taylor is the Managing Director of Malthouse Engineering, a Sandwell-based steel profiling company. Roy has been MD for the last 28 years and has lead the firm from a one site, £1 million turnover firm to a £19 million turnover, 5 site organisation employing over 150 across the country. He is a former President of the National Association of Steel Stockholders and has recently been appointed as an Ambassador for the Sandwell area.
A government campaign during the second world war said that careless talk could costs lives. Fast forward 60 years and perhaps we are now in a situation where careless talk could be costing our economy.
My company, Malthouse Engineering, is the UK's largest steel profiler. Trade in the last twelve months was very positive for us. Figures are substantially better than they were two years ago. Interest from customers in new orders is positive, and we have now been able to pay back our employees who took a 10% wage cut at the start of the recession to reduce costs and prevent redundancies. Our bank and our credit agencies are happy.
But looking ahead, things are more uncertain.
It is often said that financial markets trade on confidence. Small and medium sized enterprises are no different. Innovation, investment and development have been key to Malthouse Engineering's success over the last 28 years and they will be in the future too. But making investments requires confidence, and the increasingly negative stories we hear about the economic outlook mean we cannot be confident about 2012. This uncertainty is stifling the investment we need to make to grow. This kind of uncertainty could hinder the growth our economy needs to avoid another recession.
We hear and read continually that the collapse of the Eurozone is imminent, the UK could be downgraded and our financial system as we know it is on the verge of destruction. This does nothing to build confidence and only fuels uncertainty.
Uncertainty is causing us to hold back investment in new projects which could result in missed opportunities, lack of expansion and reduced efficiencies. We have put on hold projects to improve our capabilities and increase our output. Experienced, unemployed engineers that could be employed have not been hired
We are not alone in this and that is concerning. When small and medium enterprises do not have the confidence to invest in developing and innovating the effects can be wide-reaching: suppliers won't receive orders; Banks won't be able to lend; the unemployed won't be employed. People wont or cant buy houses and therefore wont need as many washing machines , vacuum cleavers etc or indeed cars.
2011 was a strong year for us, yet we only read about doom and gloom.
We are busy in the areas of agricultural machinery, earth moving machinery, tool making, energy and machine tools. Negative stories – which are often unrepresentative of the situation in the real economy – could become a self fulfilling prophecy where our uncertainties become realities. In 1812 we did not have such a prevalent media so our society and economy was not surrounded by the negative atmosphere we see now, if the same were true today then I am certain we would be investing as our forefathers did in the first industrial revolution. But there is good news to be found, and we should make that clear.
I believe, and so do colleagues in the manufacturing industry, that if enough of us got together to talk about the positive performances of our firms then perhaps we could start turning the tide of negativity and give the UK economy a boost.
-- Roy Taylor, MD Malthouse Engineering