Gloucester based Forge Motorsport, is enjoying record sales up 25 per cent on the same period 2019 and an extra six staff have been recruited to cope along with the split shift manufacturing needs.
But almost a year ago to the day in March 2020, Peter Miles, Managing Director of Forge Motorsport, had no idea what was going to happen when he closed the doors following the government advice to go home or work from home as the first strains of the COVID pandemic started to take effect.
This proud family business started life more than 30 years ago as Forge Engineering, with a rich history as precision engineers serving major Gloucestershire companies such as Birds Eye Walls (Unilever) and ICI Fibres (Dupont), diversifying around 1996 to designing and manufacturing its own range of performance aftermarket car parts.
Now don’t think Max power, think sophisticated, well-engineered, world leading products for marques such as VW, Porsche, Audi, BMW – in fact any car that’s turbocharged and you will have a better idea of what they do.
Managing Director Peter Miles said: “We are super proud of what we have built at Forge, we have dedicated, passionate staff who all take pride in what they produce. We have offices in Orlando USA, Taichung Taiwan and multiple resellers worldwide – for a small firm in Gloucestershire, we are supplying the world.”
As the uncertainty of Covid increased and have furloughed all the staff, sales manager Alex Harrhy was at home watching the web site and seeing online orders arriving at unprecedented levels. “In the first 7 days we had more than 550 online retail orders and another 200 from our dealer network. I had to call Pete and tell him we needed to somehow safely get back to work.”
Peter, a former rugby player at Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, and Worcester knew that strong teamwork was needed for Forge to tackle this new challenge; with staff safety paramount, and with one simple goal, to keep all staff working and employed as the pandemic played out. A handful of the team returned to service the needs and serve the customers.
But this was just the beginning, all the stock was selling fast – a good problem to have, explained Peter.
“We had to move quickly to supply the demand, so we opened up the machine and fabrication shops to restart production. We soon moved to a socially distanced day and night shift with 95 per cent of all staff back, and we could start to see light at the end of the tunnel.”
“During this time of great uncertainty we felt humbled to be going strong, and all through this time the priority was to make sure our staff remained safe, could stay working, we could stay in business and keeping paying the staff.”
He continued: “Even with these measures in place the sales and order levels are unprecedented. We are still battling to meet demand, people are at home on furlough, no pubs open, shops closed, click and collect restaurants only and folks are just sat at home shopping for car parts.” Sales were at record levels up 25 per cent on the same period 2019 and an extra six staff were recruited to cope along with the split shift manufacturing needs.
As the year under COVID approaches, Forge are again up on 2020’s sales and the order books are full, even with Brexit complications on EU imports causing some export issues.
Alex Harrhy added: “It’s all looking good for 2021, I’m confident we can keep up with demand and go strong for the rest of the year.”