Stour Precision Tools offers bespoke engineering solutions and a complete package of project managed services to its customers, ranging from small tooling solutions to complete automated production lines and equipment.
Employing 20 staff and with a £1.8 million turnover, Stour Precision Tools was founded in 1966 and initially serviced the press tool industry in the Birmingham area. The business is still owned by the same family but has diversified into several complementary market areas across the UK since then.
It offers state-of-the-art 3D CAD design and CAM manufacturing and the business, based in Droitwich, Worcestershire, now provides bespoke tooling and workholding solutions to a variety of blue-chip customers across market sectors such as automotive, off highway vehicles, white goods and food processing.
Specific services cover workholding fixtures for manual and robotic welding, build fixtures and manipulators, as well as machining and fabrication services and CAD design and engineering capabilities.
Having an established reputation for manufacturing quality and innovative design, Stour has maintained these core principles while expanding its skilled workforce, facilities and investing in equipment in recent years. Its services have been engineered to meet customers’ needs alongside stringent manufacturing quality and international safety standards.
As part of Stour’s business growth development plan, it identified a requirement to expand the size of its in-house manufacturing capacity due to the increased demand for turnkey fixture workholding and jig/tooling solutions for its existing customer base, as well as new markets and customers.
In late 2021, the company opted to buy a Soraluce FS8000 travelling column milling machine. With a working envelope of 8m in X, 3.2m in Y and 1.6m in Z, the machine is virtually three times the size of any others at Stour, and has dramatically increased production volumes.
The Soraluce saves Stour more than £200,000 per year – the amount it spent in outsourcing costs – as well as allowing new products to be offered, such as its modular positioner system. Estimated additional sales are £196,000 in year one, £376,000 year two and £572,000 in year three.
The machine was purchased through a Dutch reseller/agent from a German company and required payment upfront. Stour funded the initial purchase of the machine and Compass Business Finance assisted initially with a Funding Circle Loan at the start of the final decommissioning, storage, transportation, and installation phase of the transaction.
Compass then arranged a sale and hire purchase back to reimburse Stour for £505,569.63 after the machine was installed and commissioned. The transaction took over six months from quoting to final pay-out.
“Compass was extremely responsive right from the start,” says Clive Chaplin, managing director, Stour Precision Tools. “They quickly fully understood our situation, the dynamics of the machine being abroad, and that the seller did not want to even begin preparing the machine for transportation to England before receiving full payment, whereas other contacts I’d made weren’t fully understanding of the situation.
“Compass really stepped up to the plate and was the company that delivered. What really shone through was the extra level of service. It wasn’t the case that, ‘we’ve got your deal, we’re not bothering any more’. It was absolutely, ‘let’s deal with the grief as well as the easy stuff’.
“They dealt with many other things way and beyond what you might normally expect from a finance company. For example, dealing with our landlord who needed to give permission for the foundation work for the machine to be installed; another was liaising with solicitors. We were grateful for this additional help – particularly in stressful situations when it appeared no progress was being made.”
The new machine means no more of Stour’s work has to be outsourced. Just as important, it has provided the platform for Stour to develop its own bespoke in-house modular positioning system.
“Having this machine allows us to create our own product range,” comments Mr Chaplin. “Traditionally we have just reacted to our clients as a servicing company. But now we can complement that with a standard positional system on which we can not only build our bespoke orders, but also have a standard machine for our own products. We are confident our turnover will grow to £2 million next year.”
Stour Precision Tools
Compass Business Finance