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Robert Gavin from Aluminium Bending Specialists

From gothic arch and porthole windows to prestigious projects such as the Athletes Village at the London Olympics, ABS are leading the way in aluminium bending. With a workforce of 28 staff members, ABS are a small business delivering high-quality projects to a wide range of sectors. Sales Director, Robert Gavin, is responsible for the sales, marketing and financial side of the business to ensure ABS remain the UK’s premier aluminium bending company.

Rob Gavin


High quality training at a reasonable price was an opportunity that Robert couldn’t turn down. He researched the Help to Grow: Management Course at Nottingham Business School (NBS) after initially being attracted by the 90% course fee reduction provided by the government. Having completed an MBA prior to his 15-year career as Sales Director of ABS, he perceived the content as a “mini-MBA", that would act as a complete refresher and bring his knowledge up to date. Robert previously worked with NBS as part of a Postgraduate Consultancy Project, so the school stood out to him and its proximity to his business made it easy to schedule the course around his workload.


New systems and technology

Information Technology (IT) is crucial to the success of most businesses in the modern world. For Robert, the new thinking around IT gained on the Help to Grow: Management Course was beneficial to ABS. It provided him with the insight he needed to transition from an access-based management system to a cloud-based system, with the help of a Nottingham based software company. Consequently, the system can be accessed anywhere, allowing staff to utilise tablets rather than paper. Communication speeds have increased, as the system enables photos of issues to be instantly reported to managers for immediate action to be taken. In the future, Robert hopes to develop the system so that customers can track their own orders.

Production flow is not an area within ABS that Robert is regularly involved with, but he brought back information from the Help to Grow: Management Course that sparked discussion and challenged thinking within the business. The result has seen ABS enter discussions to introduce laser welding into the production process to increase efficiency.

Guidance from Robert's mentor supported him through the implementation of these new systems and ideas as part of his Growth Action Plan. Robert describes his mentor as a “very experienced, impartial sounding board”.

Key skills

Before the Help to Grow: Management Course, Robert struggled to see the value in social media marketing. The course content and discussion with likeminded people facing similar problems demonstrated to Robert the importance of social media as a low-cost big benefit marketing tool. With support from Robert’s mentor through his Growth Action Plan, ABS have increased valuable social content activity. Consequently, the business has gained new customers and quoted over £3M worth of work in a single month for the first time in five years.

The Help to Grow: Management Course reinforced Robert’s leadership and communication capabilities. He has developed a plan that includes shorter but more frequent meetings to counter silo working and opened communication channels across every team. Although a challenge, as this has meant changing cultural beliefs within the business, Robert is confident the plan will eventually become second nature amongst his colleagues. To maintain staff motivation, Robert has introduced an employee recognition scheme to reward those excelling in their duties.

As ABS continues to grow, Robert is now in the process of utilising NTU’s employability service to recruit two new employees.

Would you recommend the course to your previous self?

Without a shadow of a doubt. The course requires little effort to attend and does not include coursework making it the ideal way to learn while still completing your daily workload. It included everything I needed to update my knowledge with the latest thinking and interact with my peers for advice at a price I couldn’t turn down.

Help to Grow: Management Course

Join 30,000 senior leaders taking part in a practical management training course, a scheme delivered by world-class business schools, accredited by the Small Business Charter.

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