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Bend-it: one of Translift Bendit’s articulated forklift vehicles

Bendi set to raise

company profile A Redditch forklift manufacturer is introducing new products as it battles for new orders both at home and abroad. Bendi Translift Ltd is one of the leading makers of articulated forklifts, a product it pioneered nearly 30 years ago. The forklifts are used in areas which have narrow aisles, such as warehouses.

Above: John Coxsey, toolmaker, joined the firm in 1975 when he was 24

Left: Fiona Toye, CEO with a Friction Screw Press, used for stamping large medals

Toye’s art of survival “T


here is a future for manufacturing in the West Midlands,” said Fiona Toye, chief executive of one of the oldest

family businesses in the West Midlands. She said: “These harsh times are a test for the area’s inherent ingenuity and adaptability that, with determination, we will overcome.” Toye Kenning Spencer was established by Huguenot

immigrants in the 17th century and the family business has evolved over three centuries of craftsmanship since its formation in 1685. As specialist producers of bespoke identity products

for clubs, associations and corporate clients, Toye Kenning Spencer holds a Royal Warrant to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II for the supply of gold and silver laces, insignia and embroidery.

‘It is crucial that we tackle the challenge of keeping the craft skills alive and excite young people about the industry”

Fiona said: “But times are changing for the manufacturing sector. Partnerships with other companies are becoming increasingly prevalent as we collaborate to deliver the comprehensive range of services and products customers demand. This often means working co-operatively with our competitors. “Creativity in design is at our heart and for our continued growth it is important that we build on this

Bendi, which has just joined the Chamber, was set up in 1964 by former Lansing Bagnall apprentice Freddy Brown to produce space saving forklift trucks.

‘To create even more skilled UK jobs has been very pleasing for everybody at Bendi’

philosophy and continue to invest in our capabilities. “We are also evolving our operational structure, putting the needs of our customers at the centre of all we do and servicing them, via our sales team, by a supply chain that encompasses production, procurement and distribution,” she said. The company, based in Birmingham’s Jewellery

Quarter, designs and hand-makes state insignia, civil and military uniforms, sporting trophies and honours caps and design-led cufflink and accessory collections for many leading fashion houses. There is another factory in Bedworth near Coventry which employs craftsmen and women specialising in narrow fabric weaving, manufacturing miles of coloured ribbons, braids and laces. Fiona said: “We couldn’t combine our factories; 95

per cent of the people we employ in Bedworth are local and we wouldn’t be able to replace these highly skilled master weavers. “It is crucial that we tackle the challenge of keeping

the craft skills alive and excite young people about the industry. We have one apprentice diesinker at the moment and four employed in textiles. We are working hard with Birmingham Metropolitan College and the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in London to explore further training opportunities.” Local jeweller Alice Gow and Andy MacGowan from

Regent Silversmiths are two examples of the wide range of high quality, hand-made, goods being designed and produced in the Jewellery Quarter. Andrew set up in business in 1985. He started at the School of Jewellery as a silversmith and now designs and makes functional silverware.

Its main products these days are the articulated forklifts, developed in the 1980s by Mr Brown, by then chairman of the company. Today, Bendi sells its vehicles all

over the world. In the UK, the company’s biggest customer is DIY giant B&Q, who have 750 of the forklifts. Other clients include Ikea and Eddie Stobart. Bendi joint owner Paul Overfield

said: “We have invested heavily in buildings, machines and most importantly people to accommodate the new products and to allow for increasing volume in existing lines. “The increase in orders has

thrown up some challenges but they are nice problems to have. We already had a highly skilled and dedicated workforce in the factory so to create even more skilled UK jobs has been very pleasing.” Paul Berrow, sales director south, said that despite the company’s success, it was still relatively unknown, and one of the reasons for joining the Chamber was to change that. “I’m quite excited – it will open

more doors for us,” he said. “I will be attending networking events and going to dinners – you never know who you might meet.”


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