Wakefield engineering firm set for growth with new university partnership

Published 26th Nov 2020 by Emma Sinfield

Business and management experts at Leeds Beckett University have formed a partnership with a family-owned engineering firm based in Normanton, Wakefield, to support their ambitious plans to grow and reach new markets.

The team of academics, all based within Leeds Business School, will work with Bensons Control Panels on a two-year project to bring strategic change to the company’s culture, processes and marketing to allow the family-owned business to develop new services, enter new markets and grow in size.

Dr Ollie Jones, Principal Lecturer in Operations, Enterprise and Supply Chain Management and Project Lead, explained: “Bensons has an excellent reputation and has ambitions to develop unique ways to combine new product development with customised services - in both new and existing markets. In order to do that, they need to build their management capabilities and the corporate culture across their whole organisation.

“We are looking forward to working with Bensons to guide them through the changes needed to achieve their goals. As part of the project, we will recruit a full-time research associate who will be based within Bensons and will work with our team of academic experts to evaluate the changes needed and set these strategic shifts in place.”

Helen Culloden, Managing Director of Bensons Controls Panels, said: “We are delighted to be partnering and working with Leeds Beckett University. The funding secured, together with the collaboration with the team of academics within Leeds Business School, will enable us to greatly strengthen and develop our team and business. It will provide us with the ability, knowledge, structure and capacity to further grow and develop, and reinforce our reputation in the marketplace - enabling us to continue to expand and break into new and emerging markets.”

The Leeds Beckett team includes Jo Crebbin, Associate Lecturer in Operations & Supply Chain Management, a former management consultant specialising in helping SMEs to grow and former Change Director at Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate; and Dr Catherine Ashworth, Senior Lecturer at Leeds Business School and expert in strategic marketing management.

The project is one of the country’s first Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (mKTP), receiving financial support from the UK government department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through Innovate UK.

mKTP aims to help businesses improve their efficiency and productivity through the better use of knowledge and expertise held within UK Business Schools. The new scheme was launched earlier this year, with Leeds Beckett now leading three mKTP projects.

This project builds on an ongoing collaboration between Leeds Business School and Bensons – last year, the team worked together as part of the Innovate UK-funded Expert Quartet Project. Led by Dr Ollie Jones, the project supports a range of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing industry within Yorkshire to improve their productivity through tailored performance management practices.

Helen Culloden added: “Working with Leeds Beckett has allowed us to identify, quantify and better understand several key areas of our production process where improvements can be made to benefit both ourselves, and more importantly, our customers. We look forward to welcoming our new research associate and embarking on this exciting new venture with Leeds Beckett University in 2021.”


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