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Success built on innovation at concrete canvas

Concrete Canvas used for Slope Protection Innovation is the foundation for the success of one of Wales’ premier manufacturers, Concrete Canvas Ltd, who are  celebrating 10 years of design and manufacture this August.  The South Wales based company have won a series of  awards, most recently being recognised by the Wales Quality Centre with the 2014 Innovation Award.

Company founders William Crawford and Peter Brewin invented Concrete Canvas® GCCM (CC) whilst studying  at the RCA in London.  The original concept was to create a ‘building in a bag’ – an inflatable concrete shelter that  needs only water and air for construction, that can be deployed in war zones or refugee camps and be useable 24  hours later. The pair had to invent CC to make the Concrete Canvas Shelters idea work, and it turned out the  material itself was the more commercially viable product. CC is produced in roll formats and exported to over 40  countries worldwide. It is used for a variety of applications, such as ditch lining, slope protection and bund lining.  CC is ideal for challenging and remote environments such as those found in the mining sector, where the fabric is used to line drainage channels and create vent walls.  Shipment costs and logistics are significantly reduced as 1 pallet of CC can cover the same square meter area as 2 ready mix concrete trucks, with installation being around 10 times faster than conventional concrete.  CC reaches 80% of its 28 day strength in just 24 hours, drastically reducing time on site, track closures and the length of time vital infrastructure has to be taken offline.

The first Concrete Canvas facility was based in Northampton, where they worked on the initial designs and concept before moving to Wales in 2007.  They chose Wales due to the  start-up support available from the Welsh Government, as well as the availability of a skilled workforce and a good plant location.  Concrete Canvas now employs over 30 people, with further expansion planned.

Presently 80% of their sales come from exports, with shipments made to Thailand, Australia, Russia, Japan and Malaysia in the first 10 days of July alone.  The products are used in the Mining and Petrochemical sectors as well as in a wide range of civil infrastructure projects for road and rail.  There are a wide range of applications in the Recycling industry.  Business continues to grow rapidly at around 90% per annum, a fact recognised by the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 league table where they were ranked 16th fastest growing company in the UK, 2nd Fastest growing manufacturing company in the UK and fastest growing company in Wales.

Lloyds Bank has worked with Concrete Canvas since 2009, providing financial guidance and support as the company established.  Rapid growth created specific financial needs and Lloyds Bank was able to respond rapidly, which was vital to the company’s success.  As a sponsor of the Wales Quality Centre and the 2014 Awards, Lloyds Bank nominated Concrete Canvas for the Innovation Award.

William Crawford explained the significance of winning the award:

“Awards give credibility to and awareness of what we are doing, and it is fantastic for our team to be recognised for their hard work. We wish to thank Lloyds Bank for the nomination and the Wales Quality Centre for recognising the innovation our company prides itself on.  Both Peter and I are passionate about innovation and creating unique and revolutionary products that are changing the construction industry.  We continue to commit to research and development with approximately 20% of our turnover reinvested annually.  This is a very exciting time for the company.”

Ciaran Leaden, Head of Manufacturing and Education, Wales and Borders for Lloyds Bank SME Banking explained the reasoning behind the nomination:

“William and Peter built the business on the foundations of an incredible innovation, and they chose to do it in Wales; we [Lloyds Bank] felt that this should be recognised.  We hope that other entrepreneurs in the manufacturing industry in Wales will be inspired by their drive, enthusiasm and ideas.  Wales is blessed with many successful manufacturers and it’s really important that we recognise and acknowledge their achievements.  Congratulations to the Concrete Canvas team.”

Concrete Canvas continues to expand, most recently demonstrated by signing a distribution agreement with PT Multiagung Setiajaya (MAS) that will be worth 850k over the next 3 years.

For further information on this article or other initiative where Lloyds Bank is working closely with their local community, please contact Ciaran Leaden on [email protected] or 07788 640788.

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