The last 4-5 years has seen a large increase in our infrastructure here at Saxon Packaging to support our continual ambitious growth aspirations. Trevor Hook, our Financial Controller talks us through these investments and the support we have received by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, through the Growing Business Fund and Small Grant Schemes.
“In the form of both capital investment – i.e. machinery, and a marked increase in personnel and skills, we (Saxon Packaging) have been able to be more competitive in the corrugated packaging market place and able to offer a much more diverse array of packaging products and services to our customers.
As an independent company it was difficult to fund the large sums needed to resource ourselves effectively therefore it was especially pleasing to know that there were, and indeed are, organisations out there willing to help growing businesses reach their goals.
Whilst we were aware of the existence of the Regional Growth Fund, historically we had perhaps became cynical towards the award of grants – there was always talk of money being available, but was it really? Would it meet our short term time constraints? And just how much bureaucracy was there in obtaining one?
Our first direct dealings were late in 2013. Our bank put us in touch with a contact at our local LEP who quickly made an appointment to come to see us. She listened to our plans, agreed that it met the necessary criteria and assisted us in making an application. Her panel met monthly, put our proposal on the agenda and the panel had no hesitation in approving our application to fund 20% of our two capital purchases back then; our Biomass system (using recycled wood pellets to replace our oil operated heating system) and our Bobst Die Cutter (increasing our die cutting capacity and accuracy). This equated to a total grant figure of £90,000.
The next stage was for the file to be transferred to Suffolk County Council. The question was, how quickly could we get our hands on the money bearing in mind we had large instalments to pay on new equipment being manufactured? This again proved to be far better than expected. We had to complete a short claim form and evidence the expenditure. Whatever we’d spent and evidenced in the claim period, the Council then matched (up to our £90,000 award) and reimbursed us shortly afterwards.
We have subsequently received additional grants for our Pallet Press, Laminator and Film Laminator (all to help us to diversify our product offering, reduce our supply chain and increase capacity) taking our total Suffolk County Council award to £193,972.
Without the support of our LEP and Suffolk County Council these projects wouldn’t have gone ahead. I will admit I was sceptical at first, but the support I have received has been exceptional. I would particularly like to thank Hayley Johnson and Glen Moore from my LEP and Dawn Last from Suffolk County Council who have helped me throughout the process.
They understand the financial and time constraints that private sector businesses face and are very keen to help and support. I have nothing but good things to say about them and the process, and would thoroughly recommend it to growing businesses like ourselves.”