Mettis Aerospace is flying high

Mettis Aerospace provides integrated solutions for the aerospace industry

For decades now Mettis Aerospace has been at the forefront of technological advances in the aerospace industry. There are a number of examples where its forged, machined and assembled components have not only advanced industries but also been crucial in some truly iconic historical moments. Early on in the company’s inception it supplied the manufactured v-shaped spurs that held the famous Dambuster bouncing bombs in place and after that it provided parts for the first jet engine created by Sir Frank Whittle, a project that at the same time it had to keep secret. As if that wasn’t enough it would then go on to forge the wheels for Richard Noble’s Thrust 2 car that would go on to break the world land speed record. It also went supersonic with work for Concorde. So, it is unsurprising that the company would be awarded Queen’s Awards for Technological Innovation and Export Achievement.

While these achievements are impressive the company is not resting on its laurels. Mettis Aerospace has continued to develop innovations thanks to a 28-acre site with four integrated business units. Furthermore, it employs 530 people and has 3600 assets on site. The products it creates include wheels, compressor blades and a number of other essential parts supplying high-profile customers such as Airbus, Boeing, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce. The company has received praise not just for its facilities and innovations but also in how it approaches the relationship with its customers such as how it emphasises ‘live data rather than charts,’ offering a more ‘real-time’ interaction that customers prefer. Thanks to this success Mettis now has a £500m order book and has been able to invest £11 million in the last three years with a further £10 million projected this year. One example of this investment has been a research and development centre, improving the quality of services such as automation, metrology and additive layer technology. The company is also in the process of introducing 150 new products.

Of course, behind these innovations are a dedicated team as Chief Operating Officer Jeremy Cieslik explains: “My experience is 35 to 40 years of running plants for Land Rover, BMW, and Airbus. Our Chief Executive has run a number of businesses in steel and construction. Our leadership team comes together with a diverse personality and strong character but with common purpose and goals. This is what unites us.”

Jeremy believes very strongly in the work he does and he has a very clear view what it takes to succeed in business: “Our whole ethos is about challenging the status quo. There are two things in the industry that we hate, complacency and variability, these are the two cancers of the industry.

“So many companies suffer because they become complacent or put up with variability. We don’t use the term ‘manager’ – we have team and process ‘leaders’ because that type of person is someone who stretches themselves, breaks bottlenecks but more importantly they are always creating, shaping, forming their future as well as ours.” Brexit is one issue that he believes has been used as something of a scapegoat: “I think that’s leaders abdicating their responsibility of direction,” he reacts, another aspect of his belief in focusing on the variables that can be controlled. Seeing possibilities before others gives an advantage, especially in times of uncertainty.

Appropriately for a company that works in a field so dependent on precision and careful measurements it seems that Jeremy has a similar idea when it comes to the company’s ethos: “Our results focus on safety, quality, delivery, cost and people. Against each of these results we look at a host of measures and these give us clear performance indicators, tracking trends over five years. What is key to achieving consistent output is the Mettis production system and the four enablers that make that are manpower, machines, methods and materials. How we combine and process these elements on the site results in consistency of output. This then allows us to look at improvements, productivity, time to market, lead times, quality, surpassing the customer’s expectations and continuing to compete globally,” he explains.

This is not just a corporate statement. Jeremy is proud of the fact that every Boeing and Airbus plane currently flying uses Mettis’ products from the turbines to the landing gear. Another aspect that the company is building on is energy efficiency and Jeremy is able to demonstrate exactly how much it is saving “We used to spend £15,000 a day on energy and that is now reduced to £12,000. We have introduced automation on our machines and invested in light scanning. A lot of these ideas have come from the shop floor in what we call our improvement scheme. If people come up with good ideas we pay them up to ten per cent of the benefit in a financial year up to a maximum of £5000.”

Jeremy believes that working with Mettis is an attractive prospect for its customers due to the fact it can offer turnkey solutions on a level that others can’t: “We are a one stop shop. We do everything from design and engineering to finishing and testing. To replicate Mettis from scratch would require investment upwards of £400 million but the amount of experience and knowledge we have gained over the years is not something you can just write down in a standard operating procedure,” he insists. “Our intellectual property is invaluable.”

It is clear that Jeremy knows what he wants and this drive and determination is reflected in the culture of Mettis. He talks of leaders setting new standards in the industry and changing the status quo with pace, passion and vigour. Mettis is also looking to the future as the company takes on around four apprentices a year with ambitions to eventually form a development academy to encourage the next generation of talent. When it comes to finding this new talent, Jeremy knows who he is looking for: “We look for people who are searching and experimenting in every job they do. It’s not about the qualifications it is about the competency, attributes and energy that person can bring to the business. It’s very much about people who can take a business forward and show inspirational leadership. Engineering is key as well as operations and management. Most of all we want people who can create belief, desire and passion,” he outlines.

When discussing the future Jeremy also hints that there are more strategic developments on the way, including a logistics hub, a supplier business park, an upcoming joint venture in Mumbai and working closely with the local enterprise partnership on how to generate wealth in the Hereford and Worcester area. “We are developing a 2025 vision, lifting the roof off the factory and seeing a different flow to make our business more productive to enhance time to market as our order book doubles. We are moving forward on this site but looking outside of our business as well. This is not about uncertainty. It is about where we are going. We are creating a very different business and we are growing our global footprint through further acquisitions and joint ventures.” One thing is certain – if Mettis can follow Jeremy’s approach then the future for the company will be very exciting indeed and it will be engineering success for some time to come.

Mettis Aerospace
Products: Parts for the aerospace industry
www.mettis-aerospace.com