Batten and Allen Ltd – Expertise in Precision

As Batten and Allen celebrates its 50th anniversary, we learn how this company has made a name for itself through precision.

Batten and Allen makes high-precision stamped and electroplated parts, primarily for electronics applications, ones that need high levels of precision.

“We’re a company that believes in engineering excellence in the widest sense of the word,” says Ian Mackinnon, Batten and Allen’s CEO. “We are engineering our products to help customers achieve their goals. If you look at it in the round, it’s about items that are highly precise for undertaking specific jobs.”

Batten and Allen does not just serve the electronics industry, but also the medical industry and any industry that requires this high level of micro-precision.

“What sets us apart is the level of expertise we have in precision,” Mackinnon tells us. “If you look at the equipment we’ve got and the people we’ve got, our people are highly skilled, highly trained, highly motivated. They have typically been with us for a long period of time, using high precision equipment.”

The Right Tools in the Right Hands

This even goes down to how Batten and Allen puts its tools together, designing, producing, and testing them itself.

“A customer will come to us for a product to be tooled and manufactured. We don’t sell tooling to other stampers, but we create and manufacture all of our own tooling internally,” Mackinnon says. “We are a one-stop-shop. We do our own plating and customers can come to us with the knowledge that they’re in safe hands with regard to stamping and electroplating.”

It is an offering that Batten and Allen is looking to expand upon, adding to its service portfolio and assembly operations to assemble parts the firm has manufactured itself.

“We can take small turn parts or a particular type of wire and assemble those into a higher-level connector,” Mackinnon tells us.

This offering depends on Batten and Allen having the right level of talent within the company, and as a small business, it is essential to find the right, highly skilled people that suit Batten and Allen’s culture and environment.

“We live in a wonderful part of the country in the Cotswolds, but there are many other companies around us utilising the same skills, so finding skilled people locally is tough,” Mackinnon admits. “We tend to train our own staff. We’ve had an apprenticeship scheme for a long time.”

While recruiting is a challenge, retention is definitely not.

We’ve one employee who has been with us for 44 years now. People tend to stay with us as a business, and we encourage that,” says Mackinnon. “We have a long service award but more than that it’s a business with a family feel. We do our very best to accommodate people in terms of their career progression. The first place we look for new employees is from our own workforce. We like to promote people from within, so people have that opportunity.”

Batten and Allen also offers its staff a degree of flexibility that its staff have come to appreciate.

“We try to accommodate people having personal difficulties at home who need to get to doctors or dentists,” Mackinnon says. “We make allowances for people to do that. We’re flexible with our holiday policy. If someone needs a day off to do something at short notice that’s not a problem. We have a degree of flexible working for people who are not on shift. We take care of people.”

Spreading the Word

When we speak with Mackinnon, he is preparing to celebrate a special occasion with those people. It is the 50th anniversary of Batten and Allen’s foundation.

“We have an anniversary party on Saturday locally at the agricultural college with current employees and their families, as well as past employees, suppliers, customers and other people who will be joining us for a day in the park,” he says. “There will be fairground rides and barbecue stands there as well.”

50 years is an achievement for any company, but it is also a time to reflect, and Batten and Allen has been undergoing a transformation over the last few years. It is not a big company, and for companies of this size, it can be a challenge to get their name out in the marketplace.

“We’re almost a best-kept secret, not many know us outside of the niche industry we sit within,” Mackinnon says. “We need to get out in front of customers.”

There was a time when Batten and Allen was happy to let word of mouth do the work for it, but shortly before the Covid pandemic hit Mackinnon says the company made the decision to “pick up our briefcases to go out and meet people”.

“We instigated a program of going out and making contact with people and visiting them which went well until the advent of Covid,” Mackinnon says. “That made us change our approach completely. We had to start doing a lot more digital marketing and that has been very successful. We took on a marketing manager who put together a whole strategy around digital marketing, utilised alongside going back out and meeting customers as Covid reached its endgame.”

The strategy is paying off and the business continues to grow, with Batten and Allen’s 50th year also turning out to be a record turnover year for the company. But it is not time for the firm to rest on its laurels.

“The world moves on and other people are aspiring to catch us up. We need to continue moving forward,” Mackinnon says. “We will be a substantially bigger company with a wider skill base in areas that sit within our marketplace. We are also advancing in terms of the sophistication of the machinery we use to drive the business. Our inspection tools and techniques will need to grow with us. We use the latest kit today but every year there is always something better out there.”

Batten and Allen is going to be focusing more on electroplating work

“The kind of applications we’re working within need more and more electroplating, so that will be an area of continued development,” Mackinnon points out. “We are moving to assembled products as well as stamped and electroplated products. We want to be a one-stop-shop for customer needs.”

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