In our latest Spotlight On feature, Leanne Fawcett chats to Dr Tony Whitfield, founder of Consett-based T A Whitfield Polymers Ltd, to learn more about the company, Tony’s plans to grow nationally and some of the hot topics facing the plastics industry.

Tell us more about the business and why you launched it.

The background to me launching the business came from when I was working for a large plastics injection moulding company based in Doncaster (Wavin Plastics UK Ltd). For personal reasons I was keen to get back to the North East and returned as a self-employed person, to undertake a project for a Consett-based, aerospace company, CAV Ice Protection Limited. That project duration was 18 months. The self-employed nature of the contract was found to be very attractive to CAV Ice Protection Ltd as they benefited from my expertise – but with maximum employment flexibility. So, from then I decided to formally continue running my own business taking on work for other clients / companies and from there, TA Whitfield Polymers was launched back in 2011. In order to take on work from eg. Large North East based, Offshore Companies, we became a limited company in 2013.

So, what does TA Whitfield Polymers Ltd do?

Essentially in a nutshell, if plastics / polymers (& chemicals) are your thing, we can help. For example, a client could have found a niche in the market and needs a product developing to make it happen, and that’s where we come in. We can apply our expertise to simple issues – but equally can address highly technically complex problems. With 40+ years’ experience, we have been involved with an incredibly diverse range of client projects resulting in an enviable 100% client project success record. We will never set ourselves up for failure – so if a company asks us to do something and we don’t think it’s possible, we’ll advise them in that way. Other services we offer clients include, but are certainly not limited to, contract research and development – at all levels, production process optimisation, any form of troubleshooting, product innovation and education through knowledge transfer. Although we have top level academic qualifications, we are very much a practical, “hands on” company with a “can do” and a “nothing is impossible” attitude – very attractive to clients. Clients have always warmed to the fact that we are very approachable and can discuss projects at any technical level. We always listen to our client’s needs – then deliver a project result to satisfy that need, within budget, on time, every time, all of the time.

What is the geographical reach of the business?

Currently, our clients are predominantly North East based, however, we are now aiming to offer our services to the wider UK area. We have recently won work for companies based in Manchester and Stoke. The nature of the work we do is always highly confidential and can be undertaken either on our client’s premises or from our own offices. Either way, NDA’s are usually signed and all intellectual property always remains with our clients.

What are the hot topics for you and the industry currently?

Obviously recycling of plastics is a huge issue, and something we want to focus on in any communications we share with our contacts, as we know there are so many companies who don’t think about how they’re going to recycle their plastic products. Other areas that we’ll be looking at, which we see being particularly relevant to the plastics industry include, but are not limited to, 3D Printing of production parts – but at higher production rates, Industry 4.0 / Plastic 4.0 and also European legislation on chemicals used in polymers – deemed ‘substances of very high concern’. Also, finding ways to push polymer properties to their limits – “stronger, stiffer, lighter, less expensive” etc, are always welcomed by our clients – enabling them to stay ahead of their competition.

What does the future hold for TA Whitfield Polymers Ltd?

Priorities for us are to raise awareness of the business so we can continue to grow. Establishing contacts with key technical decision makers of potential clients will be essential for this growth. That’s why the main priority will be to raise brand awareness and getting the business a more public facing profile. Also, we will be adopting several other, tried and tested marketing strategies to further create an awareness of our business to prospective clients going forward.