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Britain Makes Good: How two export-led engineering SMEs do it

Patrick Severn Lamb and Derek Muir

From: The Viscount Nuffield / Mensforth Lecture, 19 March 2013, Coventry, UK

19 March 2013  Manufacturing channel

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About the presentation

Clansman Dynamics designs and makes foundry robots in East Kilbride. Its robust high-technology solutions for material handling in forges, foundries, steelworks and even garbage handling operate in some of the world's most hostile environments. Its customers include some of the world's best known manufacturers.

Severn Lamb is a world-leading Alcester-based engineering company designing, manufacturing and supporting iconic bespoke transport systems which it exports to 40 countries. Its current portfolio includes trains, period replica cars and buses, boats and monorails.

Derek and Patrick will introduce their companies and then take audience questions on what it takes niche businesses like theirs to succeed. Challenges such as language problems, insinuations that British products can't match Germans ones, coping with worsening skilled design and assembly workforce shortages, SME purchasing power iniquities/disadvantages and timid rule-driven bank behaviour.

Like literally and metaphorically going the extra customer mile, the importance of design ownership and knowing their products inside out, customer partnership, acting as a self-reliant team with the MD an entrepreneur, engineer, play-maker and chief salesman.

About the speaker

Patrick Severn Lamb
Patrick's grandfather Peter founded Severn Lamb in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1947. It became known as “Model Makers to the World†with clients like the London Science Museum and the Smithsonian, Washington. First class engineering coupled with a passion for narrow gauge steam trains propelled the company to expand into making Leisure, Resort and Light Urban Transport.
With Patrick’s father Michael at the helm Severn Lamb won the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, supplied Disney theme parks with 3ft gauge live steam trains and installed state of the art monorails in Malaysia.
Today the company is led by third generation Patrick, whose commitment to the company began when, aged seven, he was taught how to drill holes in 7 and a half gauge sleepers.
Patrick spent his late teens and early twenties being educated in what he describes as “the School of Lifeâ€.
He formally joined Severn Lamb in 2005 and became MD three years later.

Derek Muir
Owing to business commitments in China, Dick Philbrick unfortunately could not give the lecture. Clansman Dynamics’ Technical Director, Derek Muir spoke in his place. This clearly illustrates the difficulties in balancing time for a managing director for an SME!

Derek has spent the last 20 years working for a variety of SME Engineering companies, involved in the Defence, Oil and Foundry / Forge sectors, predominantly in the design area. He has been involved in the Mechanical/Hydraulic & Mechanical/Electrical design of specialised products in all these sectors. Derek joined Clansman in 2000 as Engineering Manager and became Technical Director in 2009.

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