A new company, Ability Tec, has acquired the assets of Remploy Bolton, creating jobs for former employees at the factory which closed in August and has announced plans to create a training centre for companies who want to employ disabled people.
Ability Tec is thought to be the only new company to have been created following the closure of Remploy factories nationwide.
Ability Tec Ltd will run as a social enterprise, manufacturing high grade printed circuit board assemblies using a workforce of whom at least 75% are disabled.
The company is operating out of the former Remploy site before moving to new premises locally in January.
The factory will be managed day to day by former Remploy employees, with a board of directors overseen by independent trustees including Dr Brian Sloan, chief economist of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.
Ability Tec is the idea of entrepreneur Oli Randell who saw the potential for a sustainable business that reinvests profits for social good.
Randell says “The new company will operate on similar lines to John Lewis, with employees sharing the profits and reinvesting funds to create new jobs and new product lines. We have our first orders confirmed to get us off the ground but we need new customers who want to work with a business that makes quality products with a social benefit.”
Randell is the co-founder of Local Business Partners, which has a roster of experts who work as part-time directors of finance, HR and marketing and he has formed an experienced team to provide these services to Ability Tec at a discounted rate. Eventually the company will look to recruit these roles full time.
“We have been working closely with Remploy at the national level and we have presented them with a robust and lean business plan that allows us to operate without subsidy, make a small profit and then grow sustainably.
“Our job now is to seek new customers, pitching ourselves as a high quality supplier that happens to create social benefits for disabled employees. We believe that in a market where there is little to choose between suppliers we stand out for all the right reasons.”
“Our principal customer supplies energy saving devices to the social housing sector and we will be working closely with them to show to local authorities and social landlords that they can save their tenants money, reduce carbon emissions and provide secure employment to disabled workers who faced a difficult future after the closure of Remploy. Within Greater Manchester alone there are enough socially owned properties, to provide work to employ more than 30 disabled workers if they were fitted with the energy saving devices we make.”
The company plans to employ 30 disabled staff in the manufacture of printed circuit boards within three years, with about a dozen being employed during the start-up phase.
Part of the company’s plan is to create a skills centre to train other companies about employing disabled workers, using the knowledge acquired by former Remploy staff over the years.
“Disabled people bring special advantages to the workplace” says Oli Randell “There is growing evidence that disabled workers can be more productive and more motivated than their able-bodied counterparts. We will use that commercial edge to compete against ordinary rivals and build a sustainable business.”
Dr Brian Sloan, chief economist of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce said, “This new venture demonstrates the strength and diversity of business opportunities that still exist in our region. The Chamber is pleased to welcome Ability Tec as a new member and my role as a trustee honours our commitment to promoting socially responsible business in Greater Manchester.”
Alan Hill, Remploy Director of Enterprise Businesses, said: “This is great news for our former employees at Bolton and I wish the new business all the very best for the future.”
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