The Bowen Brothers Ltd is a sustainable product development company which takes customers’ ideas for innovative, eco-friendly products and handles the design and manufacturing process for them.
Founded in 2018 by former Jaguar Land Rover automotive engineer Andy Bowen, the firm recently moved into University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Innovation Centre after working remotely or on-site with customers before that.
It finally gave the company a solid base to work out of, and allowed the team to come together properly instead of having to rely on virtual meetings, which wasn’t always conducive to productive working.
Since moving to the Science Park, The Bowen Brothers has benefited greatly from working next to businesses and UWSP staff highlighting opportunities for grant funding and investment.
Andy now has his sights set on expanding the company even further over the next few years after successfully growing his team in recent months, and is confident the growth of green engineering will stand Bowen Brothers in good stead.
A new challenge after JLR
Andy had worked as a product developer with Jaguar Land Rover for around 10 years before wanting to branch out into other sectors.
He wanted to help eco-friendly start-ups or companies that may have raised their money through crowdfunding or external investment bring their products to life – whether through design, manufacturing, or both depending on the customer’s need.
Andy said: “I didn’t necessarily want to create a company that designed any kind of product – I wanted to make sure the products we were helping bring to life would help the environment in some way.
“While some companies are mainly concerned about creating products that reduce costs, we are more interested in products that reduce a company’s carbon footprint.
“So far, we’ve made a huge variety of different products for all sorts of clients – kitchen appliances, aerospace parts, stationery. It can be almost anything. We’ve also done automotive parts too which harks back to my former role with JLR.
“As an engineer, it’s brilliant to be using your skills to make products in for all sorts of sectors, rather than just one. Every project is unique for us.”
Move to the Science Park
Success came quickly to the Bowen Brothers, so they wanted to look for opportunities to move the team closer together.
It needed a base where the team could collaborate easily and work on multiple clients’ projects at the same time.
The Business Innovation Centre at the University of Warwick Science Park’s site in Binley ticked a lot of boxes for the Bowen Brothers.
“The Science Park and Binley felt like a big community to us,” Andy added.
“A lot of the businesses there have that classic entrepreneurial spirit where they love to bounce ideas off fellow companies, learn from each other and do good business together.
“For example, we’ve been going out for team lunches with some of the engineering and manufacturing businesses around us who have already given us advice on the best places to recruit from. This is the kind of knowledge we wouldn’t have had if we had stuck to working remotely.
“And the staff at the Science Park have been fantastic from day one – we asked them a lot of questions and viewed the site many times before we actually moved in, and they were extremely helpful.
“They were able to provide us with storage space during our move so we could get the office ready. It was little things like that which made us feel like we had made the right decision in moving there.”
Bowen Brothers have also benefited from the Science Park’s knowledge of grant funding and general small business support for topics such as HR and finance.
Andy said: “Our network in Coventry and Warwickshire wasn’t as extensive as it might have been when we moved to the Science Park.
“The Science Park helped put us in touch with the right people and showed us there was a lot of opportunities available that we simply didn’t know about.
“For instance, we are soon going to be applying for Capex funding through a scheme identified through the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP. This will allow us to invest in some machinery that will push our capabilities into new areas and allow further growth.
Bowen Brothers grew its team from two to five after its move to the Science Park, and is looking to grow this number significantly over the coming months and years. A new staff member is already set to join this September.
It is also planning on giving new recruits experience in other businesses at the Science Park through giving them short work placements through the government’s Kickstart scheme to boost their skills without the need for expensive training courses.
Andy added: “I’ve got a marketing intern at the moment, and while I can teach them a little bit, we can’t necessarily train them fully as we don’t have a full marketing team.
“Having them take a bit of time at a business with a larger marketing department will enable them to pick up more skills and learn on the job.”
“That way, they can come back to us as a more rounded marketing professional, and they enhance their own personal development too.”
Bowen Brothers are looking to focus further on prototype eco-products in the future, and is hopefully of purchasing a larger workshop to increase its productivity.
Andy is hoping to eventually acquire a large assembly hall in Coventry, by which time his business will have outgrown the Science Park.
He added: “Although our future plans will probably result in us leaving the Science Park, they fully understand our reasons and have continued to support us in everything we’re doing.
“Since we’ve moved here, their help has proved invaluable, and we are continuing to keep in touch with the UWSP team for further small business support.”