Formula One Supplier In Pole Position for Growth

The composites market is growing rapidly. Increased demand seen at home and abroad from established and emerging markets gives Paul Skinner and his fellow directors at Advanced Composites and Engineering Technology Ltd (ACE) cause for optimism as the company enters its 10th year of trading.

ACE grew on the back of supplying parts for Formula One teams (it now supplies to several teams; however NDAs prevent us naming them). Such is the scope for diversification, where previously 50 per cent of the firm’s business was in F1, it is now down to around 20 per cent.

“We’ve been looking at other markets for a while. Now a significant part of our business is satellite communication systems and radar scanning platforms. Motorsport is still an important part of our business and we supply parts for F1, Le Mans Endurance Series and Touring Car Championships etc, but we’re also exploring opportunities in renewable energy”, says Paul.

Renewable energy

Paul says ACE is engaged with a university to explore scaled down wind turbines and before the end of 2014, he expects to be in the water turbine business also. Turbines will be placed in river estuaries to capitalise on the strong flow of water generating power to deprived areas around the world.

With a growing market comes growing competition, something Paul acknowledges as healthy.

“There is a cluster of competition regionally and we expect that to increase – because there is growing demand for composite structures which dramatically reduce weight while maintaining integrity therefore giving enhanced efficiency and lowering energy costs which in turn helps reduce the carbon foot print.”

So how will ACE remain at the forefront of its market?

“We have long term relationships with our clients”, Paul explains. “We still have clients from when we were first established and the majority of our relationships are at least 4-5 years old. We put this down to the way we work, but also because we have in-house capability to take a project from design right through to final production, whereas a number of our competitors will only offer part of the process.

“We’re also actively involved in our clients’ R & D, so we have created partnerships with many of them, who rely on us to help turn their concepts into reality.”

International prospects

Looking forward, Paul is also optimistic about the international prospects of the company. “At the moment the UK market is buoyant, but there is a growth opportunity abroad. Less than ten per cent of our business comes from abroad, aside from some work in Canada and France; it is relatively untapped, which is exciting.”

New faces

The investment will also mean a few new faces at ACE and should give the directors valuable space to concentrate on leading the business.

“Becoming a little less hands on will help the business, as the investment will allow us to increase our production, which will increase turnover. We currently employ 23 people, but within six months, we’re looking to bring on another 5-6 more employees, some in the engineering side and others in the CAD / CAM side.”

You can guarantee the new employees will be motorsport fans too. With tickets to the British Grand Prix and testing days regularly available through clients, the perks of working for ACE are certainly not limited to the company’s own growth plans.


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