On Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting with Steve and Louisa Cox, existing clients of Robert Owen who took their first business loan from us in 2013. SEIP is a family run, industrial packaging, filling and order fulfilment business, based in Newtown. They specialise in cleaning, healthcare and beauty products, but are constantly broadening and expanding their capabilities to meet a diverse and growing demand for their services.
Prior to starting the company, Steve spent 14 years working for Unilever and then with Biological Preparations, a Biotech company based in Cardiff. When this company was unable to meet a high value contract, due to it lacking specialist machinery, the idea of SEIP was formed. Steve and Louisa took the plunge and set up SEIP in order to secure the contract.
As the company grew, SEIP found they too needed to invest more in specialised machinery as well as recruit additional staff. Steve and Louisa dug deep into their savings but still required a loan to meet the remaining costs. Unfortunately, as is the case with so many small businesses, the bank let them down when they really needed them. So instead, SEIP turned to Robert Owen Community Banking Fund.
Unlike the bank, the team at Robert Owen showed their full support for this project. They consulted SEIP and discussed their financial statements with them, offering them invaluable advice using their vast experience in small businesses. So, with the on-going support of Robert Owen, SEIP has flourished over the last few years developing a vast, high profile and international clientele.
SEIP pride themselves on sourcing local raw materials and providing employment for a large number of staff with learning or physical challenges. Steve told me that he hopes to keep this at a level of around 30% of the workforce as the company grows. SEIP currently employs 9 people full-time, all of which were hard at work during my visit, preparing orders for shipment to Sweden, Saudi Arabia and Brazil. When speaking to James, production manager at SEIP, he said,
‘They put a lot of time and effort into developing workers here, there is no judgement, everybody gets a chance to prove their worth. You don’t find many companies like that, its really second to none.’
SEIP was recently awarded ISO 9001 accreditation, a suitable reward for an outstanding company, but still remembers Robert Owen. The ethos of Robert Owen Community Banking Fund is to take time to understand a business and needs of its owners. We understand that no two businesses are the same, and we consult each based on its own challenges and aspirations. The loan to SEIP is just one example where Robert Owen has acted as a partner to its borrowers, demonstrating that they value the longevity of the relationship and mutual trust. We hope that we have played a small part in SEIP and other business clients going on to do really great things as well as making a contribution here in Wales.