#[email protected], West Bromwich

Craig McDonald joined Granlyn in 1978. Today the company employs 23 local people, and exports to Spain, Germany, Croatia, Belgium, Holland and France with a strong focus on increasing exports.

Revenues are close on £5m and the company distributes, creates surface applications and solves client problems to design stunning effects.

Beverley Nielsen visited both Craig and his wife, Alison, their Sales Director, on 26th September at their business on Bank Street, West Bromwich. This date was precisely six years, one month, 25 days and 4 hours after the date when Craig purchased the business.

When Craig first joined, Granlyn focussed purely on the automotive sector. He quickly moved to diversify into new areas as margins in auto were poor. It’s transitioned from 95% automotive sales to 60/40% auto/specialist market segments.

Following acquisition, Craig became aware of a New Zealand based liquid metal coating process, Metalier, enabling the creation of a variety of textures and patterns, making almost any material look like solid metal, whilst providing easy to apply finishes for cladding, concrete floors, window frames and interiors and offering outstanding adhesion with long term protection.

Seven metal finishes are available including - Aluminium, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Iron and two special Metalier formulations - Smoky Bronze and Gunmetal. In addition, Mountain Gold, Rose Gold, Blush Aluminium, are offered along with zinc nickel silver, due to appear shortly.

Nano coatings are seen as the future, with coatings integrating into surfaces to deliver rain repellent and other protective coatings. For example a nano coating can be used to enhance mild steel and provide it with the same qualities as stainless steel.

Q: Coming here and seeing the variety of what your coatings are able to do I imagine you have quite a wide range of clients?

A: Yes, High profile clients include Harrods, who are using Metalier to coat their escalator facades during their current store refit. Chanel used their coatings for an exhibition touring the global capitals of London, New York and Hong Kong. Hanover Square recently hosted a Design Show using the coatings to create metallic effects on a glass balustrade. RSC used the coatings to create Don Quixote’s suit of armour, frames used in the recent production of Cymbeline and 92m2 of gold cloth used in the RSC’s production of King Lear, forming a stunning backcloth for the Storm scene, prompting Carl Root, RSC Production Manager, on viewing the fabric to state, “Wowser! We need look no further; we have found the material.”

QIn light of your rapid growth are you finding that you’re able to reinvest into future growth?

A: We’ve been walloped on Corporation Tax. This hurts all our investment plans aimed at future growth. We’ve taken on 6 people over the past three years taking our team from 17 to 23 in total. Starbucks comes over here and avoids tax, whereas I get walloped.

We need to look at measures that stimulate investment for growth. How can we extend R&D tax credits, for example. Because we’re in distribution it makes it much more difficult to work out if we’re able to use these. We’re too small to get tax advantages in terms of training. We couldn’t get support with part-funding for our website. In Europe if you’re not offering products in German, for example, they’re unimpressed.

I’m putting cash into innovation and would like to translate my website into German and French. But financial support for overseas trading is non-existent. Grants don’t support trading abroad.

Q:Are we investing enough in transport here to help you get your goods to market?

A: The road network here is archaic. This is a direct cost to doing business. Our vans are stuck in the daily congestion on our roads.

Q:What do you feel about the devolution agenda?

A: I hope that it’s going to stimulate growth, a focus on the West Midlands, manufacturing, distribution and wealth creation. But I fear it may amount to a distraction. Another layer of government that does not deliver the vision of job creation, investment in transport, skills, housing, collaborative working and ultimately devolved governance. Of course the Metro Mayor should make a difference to that. I’m looking for someone who’s very practical and a ‘doer’, keen to ensure an agenda that’s focussed on implementation and delivery rather than strategy and planning.

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