Real Scaleup: Barrier Ex

RTC North (RTC North)

Created by RTC North (RTC North), 1 month ago, [last edited 1 week ago]


Steven Lee is Managing Director of Barrier Ex Ltd., a manufacturing company with four divisions including LED, Hazardous Area (lighting and Explosion Proof Enclosures), Electrical Engineering, GRP (Glass Reinforced Polymer) a Smart Meters division to follow in 2019.

Andrew Esson is a Scaleup North East Partner with specialities in manufacturing, leadership and business improvement. He is an experienced industrial specialist, who has bought, developed and sold successful scaleup firms.

Steven Lee (SL): So, Barrier Ex started manufacturing in February 2017 at that time it was only one division which was the hazardous area division. Since then it’s expanded from two employees to 17 now and developed into four different divisions, the fifth to come with our Smart Meters division in 2019.

Andrew Esson (AE): Despite the youth they’ve been scaling quite strongly since they joined the programme 6 months ago, they’ve increased their employee numbers from 12 to 17.

SL: The company definitely has aspirations to grow, when we started off on this journey, it was never going to stay two employees but we realised as we developed quickly we needed some help so we engaged RTC North and they gave us a Scaleup Partner and that’s helped us put a strategy in place to make sure we meet our goals which are: to grow the number of local staff that we have, increase our turnover and to begin exporting into the US and to the Middle East regions.

AE: As a business Barrier Ex has some fantastic market opportunities in front of it, it’s got a really strong, dynamic leadership, well supported by their sister companies and I think, when I first met Steve their aspiration was to grow to £6 million turnover and 50 employees within three years and I can see no reason why they can’t achieve that.

SL: So far in the hazardous area lighting division, we manufacture the hazardous area lights from start to finish here. On the electrical engineering side of things we fabricate cabinets for Network Rail with all the electrical gear, also enclosed within those cabinets, also fabricated onsite. For our glass reinforced polymer products, those are predominately for the building industry, dormers and canopies for example and those are also manufactured here.

AE: I think one of the main challenges that Steven and I identified from the conversation was because of the rapid growth of the company the market opportunities were obviously there, so the challenge is really enabling the business to deal with the organisational side of the business, to ensure they didn’t hit any internal barriers that would stop their scaling progress. So, Steven and I have had a series of meetings now and to an extent I’ve been acting as a sounding board for Steven in those discussions, so we’ve had quite a wide-ranging number of topics that we’ve covered. The core theme of what we’ve been looking at is the development of the organisation and making sure there is a robust organisation in place and Steven’s aware of the types of skills he needs to bring in and how he needs to be developing his team internally, so we’ve done a lot of work around that organisational development aspect.

SL: I think the best advice I can give to any business that is wanting to grow and is locally based is to engage RTC North at the earliest opportunity. There is no shame in asking for help and advice and actually most of the businesses that we know who are also engaged in the Scaleup programme, they’re doing very well, they’ve gone through the same path as us and the help is there, you’ve just got to know who to speak to and those people at RTC North will help to direct you in the right direction.   

If you think Scaleup North East can help your business, please apply today!

RTC North (RTC North)

Created by RTC North (RTC North), 1 month ago, [last edited 1 week ago]

Tagged under Leadership Scaleup Skills