Area 51 Design has been supplying creative props, décor, entertainment and shows for over 20 years from its 10,000 sq ft base on the Hurley Hall Industrial Estate in Atherstone Lane, Hurley.
With its turnover reduced by 95 per cent due to Covid-19, co-director Rich Moore started to research applying for grants and contacted Chris Lawes at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub.
Chris put Rich in touch with North Warwickshire Borough Council as well as the Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme which is an European Regional Development Funded (ERDF) grant programme being delivered by Coventry City Council.
Area 51 Design successfully applied for a grant of £12,702 towards an energy efficient CNC lathe and Polurea Spray Gun as well as the installation of LED lighting from the Coventry and Warwickshire Green Business Programme.
Rich said the business had hit a brick wall due to the pandemic which had led to massive uncertainty for its seven-strong workforce as well as its 100 sub-contractors.
He said: “We had furlough to help but we needed to dig deeper to look into how we could bounce back.
“We contacted the Growth Hub, and Chris was really helpful. Receiving a grant towards investing in the machines and helping to reduce our carbon footprint has been incredibly useful for us to move forward.
“The CNC lathe will help us to modify our designs since we make everything from scratch to create amazing props for events such as the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland or Iron Maiden’s world tours as well as the Halloween events at the Heart of England Conference and Events Centre in Fillongley.
“The Polurea Spray Gun will help to insulate our premises and double-up as a mould making machine, and both these machines will help to reduce our carbon emissions by nearly 61 tonnes every year.
Bernadette McCullagh, Green Business Programme Sustainability Advisor at Coventry City Council, said: “The Polyurea Spray Gun will enable Area 51 to eliminate costs and carbon emissions from welding gas and heating oil, the lathe will massively reduce their transport carbon by 54 tonnes which is a huge impact on their overall emissions and the energy efficient lighting will improve staff comfort as well as significantly reducing their energy and maintenance costs longer term.
“The grant intervention will make all of this a much more viable investment for the business in the short term and will also help to accelerate production post Covid-19, when more work is available, thereby both supporting the business to recover from the current crisis and simultaneously reducing their environmental impact.”
Chris Lawes, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said diversification was key to the future of many businesses. He said: “As well as all the wonderful creativity shown by Area 51 Design, there is a separate product they make called Digilegs which are reverse leg stilts that are used in theatre productions and films as well as live action roles that they are continuing to sell every week.
“Rich and the rest of the team have had a torrid time over the last 12 months like so many other businesses in their industry but having invested in these new machines, they will be able to manufacture even more incredible items from their workshop which will be seen across the UK and further afield and reduce their carbon footprint.
“This is a really interesting and innovative business in Warwickshire and I hope it is not long before they are dealing with bookings for live events very soon.”
Leader of North Warwickshire Borough Council, Cllr David Wright, said: “I’m delighted that Area 51 Design has managed to stay in business, despite the pandemic, and that North Warwickshire Borough Council and the CWLEP Growth Hub have been able to support this. The past year has been devastatingly challenging for so many businesses but with the grants and support available I hope we can see more local businesses bounce back and prosper in the coming year.”
Pictured above: Rich Moore from Area 51 Design (left) with Chris Lawes from the CWLEP Growth Hub