News Article

Accelerating business growth through the power of partnerships

Accelerating business growth through the power of partnerships

No single company can be an expert in or offer everything. By leveraging the strengths of others, companies can fill gaps, broaden offerings and better serve customers.

Manufacturers often have specific areas of expertise or focus, and attempting to cover every possible aspect of a market or industry is often impractical or inefficient. Many have turned to the power of collaboration, working with complementary businesses or forming strategic alliances to enhance their competitive advantage and accelerate business growth.

Partnerships allow companies to leverage the expertise, resources and capabilities of others to plug knowledge gaps, expand product and service portfolios, and achieve greater overall success.

Take Motaclan, for example. The Birmingham company specialises in the sourcing, manufacture and distribution of classic car parts for the trade and consumer. For almost 40 years, Motaclan has been supplying high-quality original equipment parts for iconic marques such as TVR, MG Rover, Classic Mini, Jaguar, Lotus and Ford, among others.

Whether enthusiasts are restoring vintage beauties or maintaining cherished classics, Motaclan provides a diverse range of high-quality parts and accessories to keep pieces of automotive history on the road.

However, doing so isn’t without its challenges. Despite manufacturing many spares itself using original tooling, and boasting a purpose-built distribution centre stocked with more than 500,000 lines, sourcing parts for a model that last rolled off production lines almost 60 years ago has never been tougher.

That’s where Motaclan’s active partnership programme pays dividends, helping it meet the needs of global customers both large and small.

Recently, Tim Lyons, Managing Director of Motaclan, shed light on the company's growth strategies during a presentation to Made members, underscoring the sustained growth of Britain’s classic car market.

Booming interest in classic cars

The market for heritage vehicles in the UK is growing across nearly every segment. At the end of 2023, nearly 340,000 vehicles over 40 years old were registered in the UK, of which around one in eight have been declared off the road by their owners.  

In 2020, around 1.5 million cars on UK roads were over 30 years old, Tim noted, representing one in 22 cars. By 2025, that figure is forecast to reach 2 million, outpacing the forecast number of 1.3 million electric and hybrid vehicles by some distance.

The number of classic car owners is also increasing, Tim continued, from around 500,000 in 2016 to more than 700,000 today, with many thousands more expressing a desire to be involved with heritage vehicles. The value of the classic car market to the UK economy has similarly risen from £5.5bn in 2016 to £7.2bn.

On the subject of EVs, Tim said the place for classic cars in today’s sustainability-focused world was only getting stronger.

“It's significantly less carbon-intensive to continue using existing vehicles than manufacture new ones,” he noted. “A typical classic car emits substantially less CO² per annum than your mobile phone or laptop.”

The average classic vehicle in the UK emits 563kg of CO² and is driven an average of 1,200 per year, according to a study by UK insurer Footman James. While modern vehicles have significantly less CO² emissions per mile, they are driven far more regularly and already come with a sizeable carbon footprint straight off the production line.

The study also found that two-thirds of classic car enthusiasts are concerned about climate change, with more than half open to some form of emissions offsetting scheme.

Partnership Do’s and Don’ts

Historically, parts for many classic British cars would have been made by UK-based companies. Unfortunately, many of those supply chains have been moved overseas or wound up entirely. That makes sourcing high-quality, reliable parts, often even the technical specifications, a time-consuming, difficult task.

“The only way we can do it, because we can't do everything ourselves, is through partnerships, whether in the supply chain or with other complementary businesses that may be more consumer or customer oriented,” Tim said.

“Partnership opportunities allows us to identify new marketplaces where we might not have a presence currently, whether a product or territorial market. It also enables us to fill knowledge gaps, drive our business faster into new areas, leverage other company’s brands to our advantage, and reach out to new audiences.”

Following Tim’s talk, a Discussion Group of a dozen Made Members further explored the advantages and pitfalls of forming strategic partnerships. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Scale Matters: While large volumes may seem enticing, don't overlook the value of low-volume suppliers. Sometimes, hidden gems lie in niche capabilities.
  • Know what’s on your doorstep: Understanding local capabilities can be a game-changer. Local suppliers might offer solutions you didn't know were available.
  • Visit suppliers: Witnessing their operations firsthand might unveil opportunities or capabilities you hadn't considered before. It's a mutual journey – "Help you, help them, help you."
  • Host suppliers: Invite suppliers to tour your facilities. It's a two-way street that may lead to new insights and suggestions for improvement.
  • Tap into Design Capabilities: Many suppliers boast design expertise; leverage this resource to explore alternative processes, designs and materials for better solutions.
  • Embrace Innovation: Allow suppliers the freedom to innovate. Avoid being overly prescriptive, and welcome fresh perspectives to challenge traditional norms.
  • Beyond Price: When evaluating suppliers, don't just focus on product and price; assess their processes, service quality and reputation.
  • Cultural Compatibility: Beware of cultural mismatches; aligning values, goals and processes is paramount for a successful partnership.
  • Total Cost of Ownership: Consider TCO versus locally sourced options; it's not just about upfront costs, factor in long-term benefits and risks.
  • Open Dialogue: Collaborate with suppliers to amplify your reach and overcome challenges. Being open and flexible in your approach cultivates a symbiotic relationship.

Join our Next Monthly Industry Meetup!

The opportunity to openly discuss challenges, opportunities and solutions is what makes the Made in Group’s Monthly Industry Meetups so invaluable.

During these captivating virtual events, industry experts, thought leaders, and professionals gather to share knowledge, insights and best practices.

The goal is to foster collaboration, inspire innovation, and drive growth within the manufacturing community.

Each month, we feature three engaging talks from Made Members, focusing on best practices around key themes that shape the future of manufacturing, including Global Trade, People & Skills, Future Factories, and Sustainability.

Presentations are followed by interactive Discussion Groups. These virtual roundtables enable Members to exchange ideas and gain further insights on their chosen topic.

We look forward to seeing you at the next one:

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*Header image from Freepik, inset image from Motaclan