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AME Group
Momentum House,
Carrera Court,
Church Lane,
Dinnington,
Sheffield, S25 2RG

+44 (0) 1909 550 999

+44 (0) 1909 550 888

info@ame-group.co.uk

/ 8/5/2017 Celebrating our 20th Anniversary

AME Group, Product Design, Prototyping, 20 Years

At AME Group, we´re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year.

The business was founded in 1997 after our managing director Ian Jones - a mechanical engineering graduate, who cut his teeth working at the Selby coalfield - was made redundant from his job with British Coal.

Ian spotted an opportunity to launch an engineering consultancy and set up an office in a concrete outbuilding at his home in Rotherham. Keen to meet new contacts and attract new business, he visited a trade show at the NEC in Birmingham.

What he saw that day changed everything.

“It was my first experience of 3D printing,” says Ian. “An American company were exhibiting a machine that worked like an inkjet printer but printed wax models, layer by layer. This meant that foundries, for example, could make sacrificial wax models to cast metal parts from. I just remember thinking ‘this is the future!’.”

Seeing the potential of this technology for prototyping, Ian drew up a business plan and raised enough money to buy the machine.

“When it arrived, it was absolutely rubbish,” he recalls. “I am not sure it managed to produce one successful part. It was very slow and, in retrospect, had been launched too early. The positive side was that it opened a lot of doors to prospective clients and ultimately led me to discover other more reliable technologies and partners that were already using them.”

One of AME Group’s first clients was Stanley Tools, working in partnership with the in-house design team to develop a range of tools. The success of this contract gave Ian the confidence to expand the team, invest in a laser printing machine and move the business to new premises in Sheffield.

“This was the moment at which I knew the business had real potential. Having this second machine in-house gave us the capacity to grow and the confidence to get out there and develop client relationships,” he says.

“We were small but lean and keen. Customers liked the energy and dynamism that we brought to their product development.”

By now, AME Group was carving out a reputation for its work in the aerospace sector and to strengthen the team further, Ian’s long-standing friend and MBA qualified manager Paul Howell joined the business as joint managing director and co-owner.

“We had become highly skilled at prototyping but we knew there was an opportunity to move upstream and get closer to our clients by using our expertise in product design. Securing work from globally renowned manufacturers such as Procter & Gamble showed that our approach was right,” says Ian.

We had our current Dinnington headquarters built on the site of a former South Yorkshire colliery in 2006. These premises house a growing design team and state-of-the-art prototyping workshop.

Over the years, we have incubated several innovative start-up businesses, helping them to turn their ideas into commercially successful and market leading products. One such company is Sheffield-based Connexion2, which makes communication devices for lone workers.

AME were initially approached by an electronics partner with the concept of an ID badge that doubles up as a discreet, mobile communications device. The solution, Identicom, was designed and developed in partnership with AME, and after SoloProtect was set up as a new company in AME’s premises, the Identicom has gone on to become one of the most widely used dedicated lone worker devices.

SoloProtect was acquired by US-based emergency communications company Kings III in a multi-million pound deal in 2013.

“This is a great example of what we do at AME Group,” says Ian. “We are not just drawing pretty pictures. We have designed and developed a product that led to the creation of a successful business and important regional employer.”

More recently, AME Group has carved out a reputation for helping university spin-out companies to turn their concepts into commercially viable products that are ready for volume manufacture.

Having started out as a prototyping specialist, the future for AME Group is focused on developing its product design business.

“We want to increase our design revenues over the next three to five years,” says Ian “and continue to deliver the very best in innovative product design services, developing market leading products solutions for our clients, helping their businesses experience commercial success.

The quality of our design offering was evidenced this year, when we won a Red Dot Award - the most prestigious international honour for product design.

The international jury selected AME Group for our work on the JigTech Pro - an innovative device that enables door handles to be fitted in minutes - which it developed in partnership with Ossett-based Dale Hardware. We developed JigTech Pro from concept through to prototyping, testing and volume manufacturing.

While this points to a successful future for the business, our 20th anniversary also provides an opportunity to reflect on the first two decades.

“I’m proud of the fact that we have traded very successfully throughout the ups and downs of a changing economy but, most of all, I’m proud of the way the business has developed its staff,” says Ian. “Several people have been with us for more than 15 years. Paul and I are not micro managers. We give freedom to the team to grow.

“We are not a massive company but we have a highly credible and experienced team that inspires confidence from a diverse portfolio of clients that see us as a strategic product development partner.”

Today, we work in partnership with happy customers including Dyson, B&Q, LG Harris, Morphy Richards, Unilever and Hornby.

We offer an end-to-end solution for any industrial design challenge. We’re proud of the long-term relationships that we have built, based on trust, straight-talking and a great service offering.

Here’s to the next 20 years!