Thursday, June 22, 2017

News: AME Group looks ahead as it celebrates 20 years in business

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AME Group, a leading prototype manufacturer that is based in Dinnington, is looking to develop its product design business as it celebrates 20 years since starting up in a concrete outbuilding at founder, Ian Jones' Rotherham home.

The innovative company combines a team of creative designers and technical designers who work on new products and create high-specification prototypes using 3D printing technology for customers including Dyson, GlaxoSmithKline, Hornby, Morphy Richards and Unilever.

The business was founded in 1997 after managing director Ian Jones - a mechanical engineering graduate, who cut his teeth working at the Selby coalfield - was made redundant from his job with British Coal.

Seeing the potential of 3D printing technology for prototyping, Ian drew up a business plan and raised enough money to buy an early print machine.

"When it arrived, it was absolutely rubbish," Jones recalls. "I am not sure it managed to produce one successful part. It was very slow and, in retrospect, had been launched too early. The positive side was that it opened a lot of doors to prospective clients and ultimately led me to discover other more reliable technologies and partners that were already using them."

One of AME Group's first clients was Stanley Tools, and the success of the partnership resulted in AME investing in new technology and premises.

Ian's long-standing friend and MBA qualified manager Paul Howell joined the business as joint managing director and co-owner and the Dinnington headquarters were built on the site of a former South Yorkshire colliery in 2006. The premises house a growing design team and state-of-the-art prototyping workshop.

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Jones (pictured, right) said of the growing business: "We had become highly skilled at prototyping but we knew there was an opportunity to move upstream and get closer to our clients by using our expertise in product design. Securing work from globally renowned manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble showed that our approach was right."

Showing that the business is "not just about drawing pretty pictures," several innovative start-up businesses have been incubated at the AME Group who helped them to turn their ideas into commercially successful and market leading products. One example being the Identicom product, now the UK's most widely deployed dedicated lone worker device, that saw SoloProtect (formerly Connexion2) grow from Dinnington to new purpose built premises in Sheffield following a multimillion pound takeover.

AME employs 22 people and has a turnover of £1.5m. Having started out as a prototyping specialist, the future for AME Group is focused on developing its product design business. "We want to increase our design revenues over the next three to five years," says Ian "and continue to deliver the very best in innovative product design services, developing market leading products solutions for our clients, helping their businesses experience commercial success."

The quality of the work produced was recently recognised with a prestigious Red Dot product design award for its work on JigTech Pro, an innovative device that enables door handles to be fitted in minutes.

Jones concluded: "I'm proud of the fact that we have traded very successfully throughout the ups and downs of a changing economy but, most of all, I'm proud of the way the business has developed its staff. Several people have been with us for more than 15 years. Paul and I are not micro managers. We give freedom to the team to grow.

“We are not a massive company but we have a highly credible and experienced team that inspires confidence from a diverse portfolio of clients that see us as a strategic product development partner."

AME Group website

Images: AME Group


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