Recent years have seen the British manufacturer Parry Catering Equipment transform itself from a traditional stainless steel engineering business with a 70-year heritage, into an agile forward-looking company that has adopted world class manufacturing processes, while blending these to retain the long-held traditions of being embedded in a local community.
This is a unique set up: on the one hand, Parry embraces the traditional British manufacturing ethos with its factory based at the heart of the community of Draycott and the values of the local people. However, this is now blended successfully with a business that has diversified, developed and grown to acquire highly talented and motivated managers into its ranks that it believes will be leading lights in the future.
Ben Dainty is just one of a number of the bright young talents developing at Parry, having joined from global blue chip Caterpillar Inc. He brings a wealth of product development talent with him to a production engineering team who hold over 50 years of experience across the mechanical, electrical, aerospace and gas sectors. Dainty has been heavily involved in the raft of new products that are being developed at Parry including the latest range of induction units and serveries. He commented: “Joining Parry really appealed to me, as it is a forward-thinking manufacturer which provides a framework that allows me to use my skills to help move the business forward. My opinion is valued, and I can make a real contribution to the development of new products.”
Despite the innovation of a modern product offering, the core manufacturing methods used to create stainless steel products have changed little in the past 50 years. This is echoed by Parry, where at the heart of the business the company has a dedicated group of skilled craftspeople. The production process sees flat stainless steel come into the factory, and the hands of these craftspeople cut, bend, weld and assemble steel into either standard or bespoke finished products to meet the customers’ often short lead times.
Where the business has evolved is in manufacturing principles and processes flow. Wendy Millward, production manager, has been with Parry for over 15 years and has witnessed first-hand the evolution towards world class manufacturing. “Being British is an integral part of our identity; we are proud of where we come from and what we produce; however, this is not enough on its own,” she said. “New manufacturing techniques have been introduced to enhance the skills set of the existing teams, bringing us closer towards the ‘holy grail’ of smart factory operation widely known as industry 4.0.”
Parry prides itself on its British roots; however, it operates in a global market. Ironically to become a great British manufacturer you need to utilise a global supply chain to source materials and accessories at the right quality and price point to meet consumer demand. Procurement manager Barry Pearce is a forward thinker when it comes to procurement. As Parry prepares for all possible Brexit outcomes, he actively approaches and sources from British suppliers where possible. Pearce commented: “I joined Parry nearly 15 years ago from an industry where manufacturing was declining and becoming more and more detached from UK traditions. It was heartening to again become part of a business that was not only based in the heartland of UK engineering and manufacturing but determined to hold onto skills and practices that define the very heartbeat of being British made.”
He continued: “The last 2 years have seen us focus more and more on what defines best in class, with the knowledge that the quality and purpose within the business drives everyone at Parry to make a difference. It is obvious that customers appreciate this, with turnover increasing at Parry over the last 2 years, significantly beyond market expectations.”
New product development is another function receiving increased focus and direction at the manufacturer with the formation of a new R&D department headed up by new manager Stefan Latimer. Complemented by business development manager, Euan Hunter, and his vision of products for the future, he aims to provide strong leadership and drive this sector.
Hunter commented: “It was the spirit of innovation, flexibility and professionalism that attracted me most to the business, with the ability to influence product development around specific consumer need where possible.”
Regarding the future, Mark Banton, Parry MD, added: “Every British manufacturer has the opportunity to strive to be the best and write its own future. We believe the opportunity is there to put ourselves at the forefront of agile manufacturing using carefully designed operational excellence management processes to deliver customer value. For example, we are continuously implementing strategies that eliminate waste while minimising costs wherever possible.”
This has enabled Parry to announce recently that it has maintained its 2018 prices for over 90% of its products, in contrast to its competitors and the ever-increasing costs of UK manufacturing.
For Parry, the industry is currently abuzz with operational excellence seminars and continuous improvement workshops, but delivering increased efficiency at the coal face is part and parcel of its permanent progress. This has enabled Parry to develop the kind of positive culture within the business which is apparent in those British market-leading brands that we all know so well.
With regards to ‘B’ word, Banton added: “We know we must be shrewd and not panic about any fallout from Brexit that we cannot control, so we focus on changing things within our environment and have invested over £400,000 in stock, forward scheduled orders and components to maintain customer supply despite any scenario. On this basis, we have a positive outlook for 2019, but like any successful, true British manufacturer, we are poised, with one hand wrapped around the tiller, ready to adapt in the wake of any market conditions.”