Warren Services, the manufacturing company who made the famous Take That steel robot that the band had used on their famous 20th anniversary concert tour in 2011, was founded in 1990 by Richard and Sharon Bridgman. They started out by setting up shop an old Flint Village School in Feltwell, Norfolk and things took off from there. Warren Services specialise in manufacturing high quality components and mechanical and electrical sub-assemblies.
Warren Services specialise in manufacturing high quality components and mechanical and electrical sub-assemblies.
“We started sub-contracting parts and at first and we started working on manual machines, eventually progressing to CNC machines”, said Richard Bridgman, CEO of Warren Services. “We soon outgrew the school and we sold it for half a million pounds, which we then used to buy our first factory in Thetford.”
In the beginning
When Warren Services started out Richard never imagined they would be able to fill up the first factory they had purchased (30,000 ft²), but now they already have their second property, which is 50,000 ft². However, they are not planning on expanding further in terms of property, and are going to consolidate instead. The business is expected to expand its customer base, people and machinery and Warren Services just had their best month ever [April 2018].
Warren Services spend a lot of time and effort into helping others and have managed to create a good reputation for themselves around the country, and especially in their local community. Richard is on the New Anglia LEP Skills Board, an Apprentice Ambassador and was chair of skills council SEMTA East of England for many years. He is also a member of EEF’s East of England Regional Council.
“I value the relationship we have with EEF, they took me on when we first started out and had only half a dozen people”, said Richard, “This relationship has put me in front of ministers and other influential people.”
Warren Services employ 100 people, out of which 30% are current or ex-apprentices. They belong to the 5% Club, so they guarantee that every year they will have 5% of the workforce in training.
Apprenticeships and the community
Richard is very passionate about apprenticeships and that goes back to a time when Warren Services realised they needed to start training apprentices themselves because of the scarcity of engineers in the Thetford area.
“I’m a great believer in work experience”, said Richard. “We take a lot of people on work experience and we offer jobs to the ones that are successful. The ones that we can’t offer jobs to often continue on to work for other manufacturers in town. We also work closely with the DWP, they are very forward-thinking and there are many new opportunities that we are involved in. We’re always looking at how we can lift the level of training in our area.”
Goals and Values
One of Warren Services’ core values, and a personal core value for Richard, is helping and developing people. Richard wants everyone who works for Warren Services to reach their full potential and says he has a responsibility to the people and their families.
This sentiment resonates with others at Warren Services, who say that for them it is a family owned business and that family extends to everyone who works there. Peter Brimson, Warren Services’ Production Manager, says that is probably the reason why they have such loyal customers – they treat people well and they will always go above and beyond for customers, suppliers and for the people who work there.
One of Warren Services’ main goals for the next 3-5 years is sustainability of the business and increasing efficiency. Other goals include eliminating waste so they have a better return, which is then passed on to clients as well, and also to sustain and develop the workforce and make sure they know the business’ strategic plan moving forward.
“Ultimately we are a people firm”, says Peter, “and we try to inspire people to make decisions, to lead them to think for themselves and come up with creative ideas.”
Richard Bridgman, Owner of Warren Services, talks about how it all started and his passion for apprenticeships, work experience and supporting the local community.