Despite recent optimistic economic forecasts for the UK, it seems in recent months that growth has been disappointing. Growth in Britain's factories are reported as having slowed in August, with manufacturing output rising just 0.1 per cent. It's not quite going backwards, but it is close.
What a surprise it was then at the beginning of October when we did a retrospective analysis on the accounts for August to find that August 2014 was a record month for the Cylinder Service Centre. It was the most profitable month in the history of the business.
It is not the first time the business has bucked the trend, in fact we have been doing it for years - recording steady growth throughout the recession.
Of course, everyone accepts that, in the UK, we have some way to go before the financial drag of the recent downturn can be fully shaken off. It can therefore only be regarded as very positive that a business such as The Cylinder Service Centre, based in the North East of England, in a traditional engineering manufacturing market space, can still continue to grow.
So what is our secret? Well, in this regard there are three good reasons for this excellent performance. The first is that we do quite a bit of business with Scotland and in particular with the offshore industry.
Taken apart from the UK as a whole, Scotland's private sector economy is actually doing very well, with employment rising at its fastest rate for six months in August and the Purchase Manager's Index also at a six month high in July. We have undoubtedly benefited from this growth.
However, we do the majority of our business in England and so there has to be other reasons for our recent record performance. The second secret relates to the highly specialised nature of our work. We are cylinder specialists and whether it be hydraulic or pneumatic, manufacture or repair, our specialist equipment and personnel mean that we have both the facilities and the knowledge to tackle the more difficult projects - the stuff that other engineering firms just have to turn away because they simply are not set up to take on that type of work.
The third secret is our responsiveness. Investments in both design technology and systems over the last 12 months have highly streamlined our sales and estimations processing, which in turn has positively impacted on both our repair and manufacturing processes. This has not only resulted in faster more efficient service to our customers, but has also meant that the overall throughput has been maintained even with a small reduction in personnel. The end result has been more competitive pricing to our customers and an increase in profit for the business overall.
Gary Davison, Managing Director said: "It is true to say that the future remains challenging, but we believe the recent investments we have made in both equipment and personnel will allow us to implement our short to medium term plans and continue on the growth path we have established in recent years".