When the Port Talbot-based Rototherm Group established the Rotomedical company to produce high-quality Surgical Masks, Face Shields and Goggles, they did more than ‘just’ take the lead in combating the deadly COVID virus. They grew almost overnight from a 110-strong workforce to a team of 285, working expertly to deliver vital equipment.
Just four months on, their success in producing the highest quality PPE has made them a leader in the UK and across the world – trusted by the NHS and many other organisations to supply vital protection that combines high comfort with durability and cost-effectiveness.
The company’s growth and success is now creating 150 new roles at their Margam base – and Managing Director Oliver Conger stresses these are not short-term vacancies but part of meeting long-term and continual demand, in the UK and globally.
“Leading the market for the long-term”
“We’ve been in business for 173 years and understand what it takes to build strong foundations in all our markets” stresses Oliver. “Our Rotomedical team has grown phenomenally quickly from producing 1,000 pieces of equipment a day, to 5,000, then 10,000 and now more than 50,000 a day, every day. You only achieve that by knowing what you’re doing and understanding the people you need in your team – so we’re incredibly excited about the future for our current employees and the further 150 colleagues who will soon be joining them. ”
“We’re about people as much as precision and processes.”
Rototherm puts a lot of emphasis on developing its people and creating a lean culture – and Oliver thinks this was crucial in propelling it, in a matter of weeks, into becoming the biggest manufacturer of PPE in Wales and one of the largest in the UK. “Our people are agile and that has really come into play in the PPE market. It’s enabled us to respond faster than anyone else to get our certified face shields out there. We didn’t come up with anything revolutionary; it was purely the speed of the team to turn this around, get it certified and start producing in volume.”
“There couldn’t be a better time to join us on our journey”
With new automation and a refitted factory already in place, what does Oliver expect from his 400+ strong team in the future? “We expect demand for face shields and face masks to drop from the current rather insane levels, but sales will continue at a reduced level. Wearing face masks in public will become more commonplace, as it is in Japan where I worked for several years. And the British Government has stressed the need to preserve a sovereign capability to produce PPE in the UK. So we’re in an ideal place – we’ve got very good precision engineers, proven operational excellence and the ability to produce better quality in a much shorter lead time than even China. There couldn’t be a better time to join us on our journey.”
“We’ve always run a highly-focused operation with a blend of the right skills in the right place – and a working culture where everyone commits to achieving goals together. Mindset is just as important as the latest lean practices and it’s that combination that’s enabled us to be agile when we needed it most – bringing in new automated equipment, rejigging the entire factory here at Margam, more than doubling the size of workforce, all done seamlessly.
Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:
“The business community in Wales continues to go above and beyond to help our healthcare heroes during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Rototherm Group are part of a number of firms to adopt new ways of working and switch to producing different devices and products with impressive flexibility.
“I’d like to thank the company for its work, creating new important jobs and for the real difference it has made to efforts to beat the virus, not just here in Wales but across the world.
“Wales has a wealth of experience, talent and skills. Never has that been more evident than in 2020.”