Archive for February, 2010

Let Us Make Britain Great Once More

Recently AR Engineering Industries held an event to mark some major events in the organisation’s development. However, for us, it was not only a celebration of our own achievements but a chance to raise awareness of the state of the British Manufacturing Industry and build support for its revival. It is not just down to big business and multinational corporations to turn around the steady decline of, what was once, our most important industry but every small business has a responsibility to do their bit to encourage the growth that is so badly needed.

Claire Cooper MEng, Director of AR Engineering industries made a speech which summed this up. Here it is in full.

What do Isambard Kingdom Brunel, George Stephenson and Sir Frederick Henry Royce all have in common?

Correct; First they are all Engineers: Brunel best known for his work on projects including the Great Western Railway and the Clifton Suspension Bridge in (Bristol), Stephenson is renowned as “The Father of Railways” and Sir Frederick was one of the founder partners of the prestigious Rolls-Royce car manufacturers.

The second striking similarity is that they are all British.

They could not have known the influence that their life, their passion and engineering genius would have had on shaping Britain and the world as whole, and these are just three examples of the many Engineers that we can be proud to call British.

Worldwide, Britain was respected as an authority on engineering. Fundamentally the part Britain played in the Industrial Revolution, our contributions to science and engineering and our enviable reputation for the manufacture of high quality product is what made Britain Great.

Throughout the later part of the twentieth and to date practical engineering and manufacturing within the UK has been rapidly declining due to a number of factors including the fast-growing developing economies of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, and our own educational focuses shifting and along with sociological changes within our own community forcing trends to move away from hands on practical trade work to what has been portrayed as the more ‘fashionable and glamorous’ world of computing, banking and management studies.

No discredit to any such industry, however it seems that the bubble burst, boom time was over and our economy came crashing down around us… now we are not here today for a political debate or an analysis of the country’s economical position in the global markets… but we are here to learn about how one small business is fighting its corner not only to ride the storm of the recession but to enter into the next economic cycle stronger than ever before. I believe that if engineering and manufacturing could once again thrive within the UK, and if as a nation we were to revert back to our industrial roots, the economy as whole can flourish once more.

Engineering is the cornerstone of the modern world; and recognising this, A&R draws on this legacy to make a difference.

A&R Engineering (as we were formerly know) was founded 16 years ago by my Father, Alan and his business partner Roy, much of their success was as a result of work within the automotive trade. However due to the gradually changing demands of our client base it was decided that our skills and expertise could be applied wide spread beyond just the automotive industry – aerospace, defence and utilities to name just a few all demanded the high levels of quality and precision that is intrinsic in all of the work carried out at A&R. As Roy retired in 2004, the Cooper family – Mum, Christine, Brother, Daniel and I made up the A&R Partnership with Alan. Following my Graduation from the University of Surrey with a Masters in Mechanical Engineering I joined the business to play and active part in the everyday operations.

Over the past two years there have been some significant changes in the trends of our Client relationships and then of course came the ‘Credit Crunch’. For several months like most businesses we sat tight, we reduced costs, enhanced our efficiency to optimum levels and quite simply crossed our fingers. We ticked along, but this is a dangerous game and provides no sustainability or security for the future. After a careful review of the business it was decided that the only way to ensure longevity for A&R was to take action and not become the next victim of the dwindling economy.

Today is a celebration of the journey we have taken over the past 6 months. Most significantly you will notice we are now AR Engineering Industries Ltd.

We have worked on compiling a comprehensive business plan and marketing strategy to help move us forward and grow and develop.

We have the solid foundations of a great team of engineers with a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of engineering and manufacturing working together alongside valuable members of support staff.

We utilise the latest technology and equipment to ensure efficient and cost effective solutions to any engineering problem, we focus on the provision of quality in every aspect of our business.

Last year we were awarded our Certificate of Approval for our ISO 9001:2008 standard Quality Management system – a great achievement for a small company and a clear demonstration of the standard to which our services and products adhere to.

Today on display you can see our new website and Company Literature, there is a demonstration of our CAD CAM software, and we also have a small selection of some of the components and items that we can manufacture – however we are not limited to what you see here…. Not just a cheesy cliché but a genuine belief that ‘nothing is impossible… it’s just waiting to be engineered!’ Our technical guys are also here so please have a chat and find out a little more about what AR do, and perhaps what AR can do for you. Yes we work within the high tech aerospace, utilities and transport industries, but engineering is part of our everyday lives – and we can meet your everyday requirements – recently we have made components for the local butchers mincing machine, we sharpen and maintain blades for a number of tree surgeons and printers, as well as our neighbours’ gardening tools, we have designed and made a fridge opening aid for the frail and elderly… the possibilities are endless.

However, today is not only a celebration for AR Engineering Industries, but also I would like you to recognise this as a representation of the importance and significance of the small to medium enterprise in today’s society. SMEs such as AR can offer many advantages over larger faceless corporations – we can offer a personal service, we can have the scope for flexibility to accommodate your needs and can be dynamic and responsive because you can deal directly with us and our engineers – no call centres or electronic voices to decipher your problems, just real people and real engineers.

The SME or local business is a great contributor to the economy as a whole – but to thrive we need your support – and this is also prevalent beyond manufacturing and engineering. Buying cheaper imported goods on a cost basis is often the easiest and in some ways the most logical option – however at what cost is this to our future generations? This is an important question we should ask ourselves. Last year Britain’s manufacturing output was approximately 13 % lower than 2008 – the fastest fall since 1948, when records began, current indications are that this downward trend is set to continue – this would imply job losses and money being spent abroad to procure these items.

It would be an unrealistic idealism to say we should manufacture everything in Britain and buy only British products, however little by little if every person made one or two small changes to their lives and the products we buy in order to support a local business or a British company perhaps we can all contribute to help rebuilding our economy and to once again help make Britain Great.


Recession A Time for Growth and Development

News ShopperThis article, written by Claire at AR Engineering Industries, appeared on the News Shopper business pages.

At a time when most businesses are rationalising their operations due to the current economic climate at AR Engineering Industries; a family run precision engineering, machining and manufacturing company based in Dartford, Kent; we decided to not sit back and become the next victim of the UKs dwindling economy.

As an SME and with extremely limited resources formulating a new marketing strategy for the company – an activity not within our past scope of operations – was no mean feat. With so many options available and budgetary constraints a significant consideration, careful choices had to be made and our actions meticulously planned from the outset.

The main purpose of the ‘Re-Launch’ project was to ensure that our company was no longer invisible to the industry and potential customers – an issue many SMEs face.

After much consideration it was decided that our key areas of focus were to be; an enhanced company image and logo, a website and new company literature. Alongside this we took proactive measures in the promotion of our business from attending networking events, use of services such as Facebook and Twitter in addition to formalised tele and email marketing campaigns.

The above was all made possible through use of the services offered and advice from several key organisations: The Manufacturing Advisory Service, Business Link Kent and The Thames Gateway Chamber of Commerce. They offer free and part subsidised support and utilise government funding specifically allocated to SMEs – much of which, like us at AR Engineering, similar business’ are unaware of. As a result of the support of the above mentioned organisations and the commitment of the AR Team to the implementation of not only the new marketing strategy but a transformation in the fundamental way the business operates we are steadily moving along the pathway of transformation from traditional old school dirty engineering work shop to innovative and forward thinking engineering company of the future.

In the grander scheme we envisage that if other similar companies follow the proactive route to success and sustainability that not only the British Engineering Industry will once again be able to thrive but as seen historically, it will also support and boost the economy as a whole.

To celebrate the achievements and the journey we have taken over the past 6 months we are holding a re-launch event on Tuesday 23rd February; for details please email or visit our website at If you wish to find out more about our story and information regarding the resources and advice we utilised please contact us.

Business Blogging From Scratch

Shout about your Blog!After spending a lot of time and money on a new website the last thing you want is for it to sit there not working for you. The only people who are likely to see it are the friends, family, suppliers and customers that you send a link to but all those people know you exist already. You want your website to reach a larger audience.

After an extensive search, my sister and I eventually found a company to take on the project of designing the website for our family business, AR Engineering Industries (a process which will be the subject of a later post on this Blog). Three months after we found them (SEA Ltd, an extremely helpful company) we thought, “Our site looks brilliant…but who is going to look at it?” Search engine optimisation is a time consuming business if you wish to attempt it yourself and an expensive business if you get somebody else to do it. However, if you are willing to dedicate an hour or so a week to it, keeping a Blog it is a highly effective, free way of generating traffic to your site.

The more links there are to your website the better. Search engines like to see other people linking to you particularly from sites that are reputable or highly regarded in their field. However in the absence of links from recognised sources why not create your own? Writing a Blog is a good way of doing this. It enables you to write about your own business or industry in a way that may be interesting to others who may then click though to your site.

There are a few key points to consider when writing a Blog:

1. Be Interesting
I found a very useful article on the Blog for web marketing company (6 Eye-Catching Content Ideas For Your Business Blog) that I found very encouraging as it confirmed a lot of what I already thought. They say that,

”the success of a Blog article also depends on how you tell your stories, or methods of narration.”

This is very true, you may be an expert in your field but who wants to trawl through boring facts and figure displayed in an even more boring way. It has to be interesting as well as informative.

2. Be Helpful
A large number of people searching the web are in need of some kind of help. If you can write a ‘how to’ guide, or offer advice about problems you have encountered in your industry you are more likely to be found and the people who find you are more likely to share your Blog with others.

3. Keep it Short.

According to, Jakob Nielsen’s Website,

“On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.”

So according to that figure you may not get as far as reading this line. Remember, the idea is to get people to visit your site so get the main points in the Blog article then refer them to your site for further reading, maybe a downloadable document? Even better, offer personal help. Which leads me to…

4. Keep it personal.

People like to think that another human being has written what they are reading, often it will help a person to connect to a subject as you are writing about a problem that they are also experiencing. Read what comments people post. If they don’t agree with what you say, politely find out why. Maybe they can help you? What about inviting people to contact you for further help and advice?

5. Promote your Blog.

You should actively try to get your Blog seen by as many peoples as possible. You can register with Blog directories, offer links in comments sections on related Blog postings (only try to do this if you feel you can further somebody’s experience, nobody likes to be hijacked!). If you want some more in-depth advice on the subject read ‘Branding 101: How To Promote Your Blog Like the Big Guys Do’ by Leo Babauta on This is a fairly comprehensive guide that deals with everything from content and structure to targeting particular audiences and sending out a consistent message.

6. Be Committed

Of course, do not expect to publish one post on your Blog and suddenly see the hits on your website go through the roof. Like all aspects of creating web traffic it is all about showing up. You have to be committed. I am under no illusions that this, my first post on the AR Blog will make a massive difference to the amount of people that see our site but we all have to start somewhere.

The more attention you pay to all these things the more likely you are to be found, and in turn send people to your own website. The goal is, of course, to increase your business’ profits by getting them to engage with you and then buy from you but along the way you may be able to help other people. By being a reliable helpful source of information you build respect, which is something that no amount of profit can buy.

I am not an expert on this subject, I just happen to have picked up some useful tips while trying to help my own small business. I have been lucky enough to meet many people on the way that have helped me so I would like to pass it on. If you feel like I can be of any more help to you please contact me at and I will get back to you.

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