Investment of time pays off for Groveley

Truth be told, Peter Bennet’s first impressions of SC21 were anything but favourable. The managing director of Silver award-holder Groveley Precision Engineering thought It “looked like a lot of additional work with no reward” and wasn’t applicable to his company.


That was in 2008. Up to that point, although Bennet had tried various performance improvement programmes, none had ‘stuck’ because they all depended on his constant hand on the tiller  – not possible in a company of fewer than 20 employees.

But when the MoD – at the time Groveley’s biggest customer – announced at Farnborough that it planned to adopt SC21, Bennet took a fresh look at the programme. The company joined as a self-starter and, supported by a business improvement grant, did its initial project in 2008 – and found savings of £138,000 in annual costs. It gained Bronze in 2010.

“It took off from that,” he said. “Everyone was trained in business improvement techniques to NVQ Level 2 or 3.

“Now everything we need to be doing is undertaken by the people on the shop floor. It’s not all on my plate.”

To cap it, the Christchurch, Dorset-based manufacturer of precision-engineered components for aerospace and scientific instrumentation has an unbroken record of the Silver award since 2012.

Although it’s an aerospace programme, Bennet has found SC21, with explanation, is massively important when he approaches companies outside the sector. “They recognise what our Silver means; that what we say we can do has been independently verified every year.

This was invaluable when Groveley had to replace the 30% of its work it lost when Covid-19 claimed its biggest customer. The result was a more diversified portfolio. “Without SC21, we probably wouldn’t have been able to do that,” he said.

Maintaining Silver status for 12 years – but recording Gold-level statistics for delivery, 100% OTIF and 99.98% quality – has made the company more efficient, and its numerous ‘best supplier’ awards underline an admirable level of customer satisfaction.

“We’re subcontract engineers: so rely on other people,” said Bennet. “We always knew that what we’re good at is delivering on time to the right quality. It should be no-brainer; not everyone does it though.

“To achieve this comes at a financial cost, but we’re very close to our customers and we know what they value.” He targets one new customer a year is new – “otherwise we can’t offer service to them at that level.”


Running at 75% capacity leaves leeway to adjust schedules to accommodate unexpected or urgent customer requirements, or for operational reasons.

As for SC21, “why wouldn’t you do it if it saves you money?” he said. Some organisations baulk at the idea of taking people out of their workforce for training. “It takes one day a week for a few weeks. As long as you plan it into what you’re doing, you get an awful lot back in return for what you invest in training.”

There’s no secret to SC21 success. Said Bennet: “It’s just being committed and following through. We never took this on to gain work but it certainly helps with happy customers and staff, who remain loyal to Groveley.”