Business case study: Coventry Chemicals

Coventry Chemicals Ltd manufacture and supply cleaning liquids, powders and tablet products to suit all professional, retail and export cleaning and hygiene requirements.

1. Please can you give us an overview of what your company does ie: the sector in which your business belongs, what your product base is and what the aims of your business are?
Manufacture of domestic and professional hygiene chemicals.  The operation involves the blending of commodity and specialist chemicals to produce products with the desired cleaning/hygiene performance.
This sector is highly price sensitive/low margin sector hence the critical factor is volume production with finely tuned efficiencies to ensure we safeguard our margin aspirations.
The chemicals in the EU is heavily regulated which calls for increasingly tight control of manufacturing and labelling practice – increasing costs with little return for compliance.

2. Which sectors does your business service/ do you provide products to?
We are a contract/private label manufacturer working in the retail and also industrial sector. These are quite different market places with retail being the most interesting/high pressure sector. It calls for a high level of professionalism and management control to unsure consistent manufacture of quality, safe and legal product against tight margin and timescales.

3. How many people do you employ/ have on site?
We employ approximately 100 people.

4. What types of people do you like to employ? And what skills and background are required?
A lot of the production work is labour intensive and repetitive – it has historically called for diligent, harder manual workers. However, as we automate the process the total headcount tends downward but the skill levels required to run the operation increases.

5. Have you recently noticed any skills shortages? If so, in which areas?
Skilled/experienced engineers, chemists and regulatory personnel are always in short supply.

6. How do you see the industry changing in the future?
A tend towards a lower headcount but a higher skills base – less people to pay but demanding higher average salary.

7. How do you see your business changing in the future to reflect industry changes?
Our sector is becoming more and more tightly regulated – the long term survivors will be those who invest in solid/robust compliance systems – this relates to both the technical and operational sides of the business.

8. Do you see the skills you require from your employees changing?
See above

9. Do you foresee any future skills shortages?
See above

10. What core skills would you recommend that new entrants try to attain to help their career?
Graduates coming into the industry who have managed to get at least some experience of the commercial/operational world arrive better equipped to understand the constraints facing the business and overall business objectives.

11. What advice would you give people considering a career in the chemical sector?
Get practical experience – don’t be proud – work on a production line if necessary, look at how the business operates – try to imagine how things could be better (without being critical or cocky). Take on any responsibility that comes your way and do it diligently and dependably. Try to understand your manager’s objectives and the constraints he/she faces – offer to take on additional task which enable you to learn and which release him/her to focus on other issues.