What a fabulous way to bring the New Year in with the news of a landmark business deal which will bring a £1.5million manufacturing contract back to the UK from China, thanks to relationships formed on a unique leadership development programme.

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Staverton-based Future Advanced Manufacture has been awarded the contract to produce a key component for Cheltenham’s ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, following a chance observation made by Future’s Managing Director Craig Peterson when visiting ADEY’s Commercial Director Rebekah Howard.

The two were part of a small peer-to-peer coaching group of four Gloucestershire businesses, meeting monthly as part of LEAD, the leadership programme, delivered by QuoLux.

Rebekah Howard explains: "We were unhappy with the long lead times, increasing cost and quality issues we were experiencing from our supplier in China, but had been struggling to find a UK engineering company that met our requirements."

"I was discussing this dilemma with my trusted LEAD colleagues, but it was only when I pointed out the actual component as we were walking through the office that Craig realised ‘I can make that!’ – it was one of those light bulb moments," says Rebekah.

Within a month, designs had been agreed and a prototype tested. Within three months, a contract was signed for £1.5million, creating five new jobs in Gloucestershire.

As far as I am aware, this is the single largest deal between LEAD delegates in the 10 year history of the programme. The confidence and trust that develops between LEAD participants as they explore every facet of their business together is fertile soil for new commercial relationships.

Independent research shows that a typical LEAD delegate grows their business by 27% as a direct result of coming on the programme, and increases employment by 13%.

Craig believes programmes such as LEAD may be underestimated as a means for growing the economy. He says: "As the ADEY/Future deal shows, LEAD is the type of programme that delivers on growth, employment and local commerce, keeping revenue and jobs in the South West. I’d like to see it embraced and promoted by local government agencies and further education, as a proven model to support growing companies such as ours."

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