Shropshire manufacturer's revenue hike proves catalyst for expansion

Fresh expansion is on the cards for a Telford manufacturer on the back of another surge in revenue in the early part of the year.

John Tumelty
John Tumelty, managing director of Proto Labs in Telford, which is set for further expansion

Figures from the New York Stock Exchange show that Proto Labs enjoyed a 20 per cent jump in revenue in the first three months of the year to $37.3 million.

And the European operation, which is centred on Telford’s Halesfield Industrial Estate, was also on the rise, with a 15.2 per cent increase in income to $6.5 million – and fresh moves into new territories could be set to add further to the company’s growing customer base.

Now John Tumelty, managing director of the Shropshire base, says the company is continuing to expand its county operation, and is moving into new fields.

When Proto Labs was set up in Telford in 2006, it consisted of three people, but now employs 168 staff having surged past the century mark two years ago.

It moved into a 136,000 sq ft base on Halesfield in March 2011, a cavernous building at the time that the company has expanded into.

Mr Tumelty added: “When we first moved here it was about six times bigger than where we were. It was a vast, empty space and we thought ‘how are we going to fill this?’

“We are now getting closer to the edges again and it’s great to see. We have more people, more machines and more activity.”

Expansion continues apace, Mr Tumelty added, and new territories and investment worth ‘million of pounds’ in new machinery is helping add to sales.

“We have three target growth sectors,” he said. “Expanding our offer, so things like adding hard metals to the existing service, adding another string to our bow, and expanding our reach with our existing customers.

“We want to continue to accelerate our growth, in terms of revenue, margins, and the reach of our customer base.

“Proto Labs has customers in every European Country. I know you have got to do things organically and safely so part of my job is to grow the company safely.”

He added: “We have also recently opened a sales office in Italy, and brought in an Italian speaker to communicate with our customers there.

“Italy has a very long history of design innovation, and some of their cars are quite radical compared to more conventional manufacturers. That work will come back to the Telford manufacturing plant.

“We moved into Germany in 2006, then France a couple of years later, and Italy is the next phase and looks like growing quite nicely.”

Proto Labs delivers Computer Numerical Control machined parts in small quantities of one to 10 units, and injection-moulded plastic parts in quantities of 10 to more than 10,000.

The company can make, deliver and invoice a product in the same time it takes Amazon to ship a book, which has led to recognition including the Queen’s Award, which it won last month.