Small Firm, Small Spring, Big Ideas – The Rise of Harrison Spinks

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Source: Harrison Spinks

In global terms, Harrison Spinks would be considered a small manufacturing company.

The firm established in 1840 makes beds at the upper end of the value chain, often using up to 20,000 springs in a bed, costing up to £17,000 ($27,000). They could not operate at this end of the market without certain unique selling points to their products.

For a start, they make all their own springs, try to source their materials locally and are continually innovating to improve product quality. From this approach, two trends have developed that are characteristic of larger, more successful corporations and the manufacturing sector at large.

The first is innovation.

The firm has developed their own winding machines to perfect the production of their own designs of springs. The most promising design appears to be high-precision micro springs just 10 millimeters (3/8-inch) high (instead of the more normal 100-150 mm (4″-6″) of orthodox pocket springs) that are laid side by side in a textile envelope to produce a surface that an FT article explains has plenty of give” to absorb weight, but which also moves back into position as soon as the weight is removed. So novel is the design that the firm has partnered with Johnson Controls to mass-produce the springs for car seats. Johnson Controls produces 25 percent of the world’s 250 million car seats, according to this article.

The second development is one that could be said to be a merging of near-shoring and a consumer’s desire for products with a genuinely more environmentally sound footprint. Although Harrison Spinks only has revenues of £26 million, it has invested nearly £5 million in a 300-acre farm and visitors center to produce its own sheep for wool and 50 acres of woodland to produce its own timber for frames, in a bold move towards self-sustainability, lower transport costs and an environmentally sound supply chain.

For a small firm operating in a marketplace dominated by major spring and bed manufacturers, Harrison Spinks’ approach sets it apart and provides clearly defined differentiators.

The combination of partnering with Johnson Controls and investing in the traditional bedding market will — it is hoped — drive sales to £100 million by 2018. As metals geeks, we here at MetalMiner are most excited by the roll-out of these innovative mini springs, and hence this is a topic we look forward to following up on as the product is developed.

–Stuart Burns

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