Salts Healthcare wins Birmingham Post award again
Salts Healthcare can not only claim to be the oldest family-owned company in the country, yesterday it became one of only a small number of businesses to win the monthly Birmingham Post Enterprise Award for the second time.
Its success in developing a new product to help the post-operative care of cancer patients caught the eye of the judges this time.
Aston-based Salts, which traces its history back more than 300 years, last won the award in July 2004 after announcing a £6 million investment programme.
Run by members of the tenth generation of Salts to be involved with the company, it has recently made a medical breakthrough with the development of a stoma collar that is helping to improve the quality of life for cancer patients throughout the world.
Experts have hailed the company’s Dermacol product as a true medical first. It is a collar made from a new soft, supple type of polyurethane developed and patented by the company that prevents leakages and protects the skin of patients who have undergone colostomy operations.
High demand for the new product, which was turned down by some of Salts’ competitors, has resulted in the company taking on extra staff and operating new shifts.
As well as stoma products such as Dermacol, Salts Healthcare is well-known as a manufacturer of orthopaedic products as well as specialist shoe insoles for atheletes.
Chief executive Philip Salt, aged 57, said yesterday that Dermacol had taken more than three years to develop and was a product of the company’s close scientific links with Aston University.
Salts employs about 350 people, most of them at two sites in Aston, and is on track to achieve a turnover of about £45 million this year.
“We claim we are the oldest family-owned company in Britain but we would be delighted if anyone came forward who could challenge that,” Mr Salt said.
Philip Salt’s brother Peter, aged 55, is managing director and a third brother, 44-year-old Robert, is export director.
“We have lots of children between us to carry on the family business,” Philip said.
“But they will need to want to come in and make a contribution.”
Salts, which is investing heavily in automation to maximise quality control, is also determined to carry on manufacturing in Birmingham.
Philip said: “We have considered moving out but rejected the idea because wanted to maintain quality and the business infrastructure and skills in Birmingham are very important to us.
“It is not all about cheap labour. We do a lot of joint research with the universities here in Birmingham and work very closely with Aston University and Advantage West Midlands.”
Alan Jackson of Intercity Mobile Communications, a sponsor of the Enterprise Award for 23 years, said Salts was a “fantastic success”.
He went on: “These awards began in 1986 when we were coming out of another recession. Many companies were doing well but were lost in the fog of recession and we wanted to do something to highlight the business ingenuity and successes that we have here in the West Midlands. We have to keep promoting the region’s businesses. There may be ten per cent unemployment today but 90 per cent of the population are still working and companies like Salts Healthcare are still turning out great products.”
The main sponsors of The Birmingham Post Enterprise Awards are Intercity Mobile Communications and Churchill Vintners in association with Laurent Perrier. Flybe and Aston Business School provide further support and Aston Villa Football Club provided a corporate package. Advantage West Midlands sponsors the annual awards luncheon.