Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Loss of Floform.

Just another 'job losses' headline to the media. "Car Parts Firm in Administration" is how the BBC has put it. Another 80 jobs gone. Not that great in the scheme of things. Well, actually it is that great. The loss of Floform in Welshpool today is a lot more than that. Trouble is that its journalism by numbers today. The meaning of Floform to Welshpool is simply not grasped at all. Now, I'm not that well informed about the history, but I know a bit about it.

Welshpool is a small is market town. It developed because of its position on the banks of the River Severn, in the shadow of Powis Castle, and as a gateway into Central Wales between mountains. Its economy was based on agriculture, and its always been a major livestock trading centre. That tradition remains to this day. A new livestock market is currently being built on the edge of the town. It was the arrival of Floform in the 1960s (?) that transformed the economy of Welshpool from agricultural to predominately manufacturing. At the time it was huge - so huge that a 200 unit housing estate was constructed to accommodate the workers who would have to move in. The infamous Oldford Estate later became well known as the first in Wales to be transferred to a housing association for demolition and redevelopment. Welshpool was never the same again.

Floform was a hugely successful company - and than it fell into the Maxwell empire. It then became what is sometimes known as 'a cash cow'. Floform has gone through several different ownerships, but has still continued to provide a lot of well paid jobs in the town - winning all sorts of awards on the way. Today's announcement signals the end of a hugely significant chapter in the history of Welshpool. The loss of 80 well paid jobs in a small rural town is a mighty blow - made much worse by the 'hit' to morale, derived from the significance of its history. Today is a very sad day for Welshpool.


Anonymous said...

Sadly there wil be many many more sad days for Welshpool if Carnedd Wen Wind Farm gets Planning consent
tourists and indeed many locals will avoid it like the plague, so I'm afraid it could be the end of many other businesses.

Your correspondent in "DC" said...

Given that "MIT students, alumni and faculty have founded over 5,000 companies. Approximately 150 new MIT-related companies are founded each year. These companies now account for employment of over 1.1 million and annual sales of more than £200 billion" (based on recent article by Professor Jones-Evans published, inter alia, in the Western Mail); and according to Wikipedia data MIT has fewer postgrads than Cardiff University and some thousands fewer than Swansea and Cardiff Universities combined (both of which are on record for producing world-class research) - why is Wales so lacking in good paying jobs?

To coin a phrase or two, could it possibly be in all probability be the case that the WAG is essentially asleep at the switch?

Your correspondent in "DC" said...

I mean to say, look at Google. As of today, Google has 140 issued US patents and no doubt a LOT more in Europe and the rest of the world. The latest Google patent is for: “Web page zoom feature” (U.S. Patent No. 7,487,447, issued February 3, 2009). Guess what, Google got a second patent issued on February 3, 2009 (OK, 3/2/2009) for: “Method and system for autocompletion using ranked results” (US Patent No. 7,487,145) …

Anyone know how much Google employees pay in tax?

Answer: a LOT.

So what is the WAG meaningfully doing about harnessing the world-class intellectual property coming out of Welsh universities?

Answer: NOT a lot.

John Halle (Trax) said...

Hi Glyn

A sad day for myself as well as Trax was born from a purchase by the Floform parent company in 1993.

Support from the WAG has recently been an issue with us. Trax has 3 factory units, 2 in Welshpool and a new HQ in Newtown. We are profitable and investing in new technology. We are no 2 in Europe in our field and are looking for a large factory unit in Mid Wales to house growth and all operations together. We export some 70% of sales and are now one of the areas major employers. If you have time to call in to see us sometime, you would be most welcome.

John Hallé
Managing Director

Glyn Davies said...

Anon - The difficulties associated with transporting wind turbines are going to have a big impact on Montgomeryshire roads for many years to come. Its not just Welshpool.

Christopher - I hope they take some notice of what you write - and what Dylan writes as well.

John - Will be in touch next week.

Dr. Christopher Wood said...

Glyn> Some time ago I heard about the First Minister’s speech to Welsh expats living in the USA where the First Minister (Rhodri Morgan) asked us not to forget Wales.

With those fine words in mind I will be wearing my best suit and tie at a Welsh-American business promotion event next month at the British Embassy in DC (linked to St. David's Day). I will also be at the BioWales 2009 event in Wales in mid March. Of course I hope to win some business, but I also want to help Welsh businesses make it in the USA.

Incidentally, I am (to my knowledge) the only PhD/technically qualified lawyer from Wales who can DIRECTLY represent Welsh firms directly before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I am emphasizing the word "DIRECTLY" because I am the only Welsh PhD qualified lawyer who can argue patent cases directly before the USPTO. So a Welsh firm wanting a patent in the USA can employ my services DIRECTLY instead of hiring two sets of lawyers.

Christopher D. Wood, Esq., PhD

JPT said...

I myself worked at Floform from 1986 to 1990 and at that time it employed over five hundred people!
The pay was much better than most factory jobs in Welshpool as well.
A sad loss indeed.

Kay said...

I was sadly laid off from floform too, It was a fantastic place to work with great people, we were promised re-training so I took the opportunity to do a CLAIT course at Powys Training, I will complete my course but others who wish to do the same will be disappointed as Powys Training are re-locating to a room in the library & are closing the IT department in Welshpool completely, another kick in the teeth for the people & the town, so much for Mr Browns promises,