Vince Cable says small businesses in the manufacturing sector have a huge part to play in the nation's economic future, as he met a Kent hovercraft-building firm.
The Business Secretary spoke to workers from Sandwich-based Flying Fish at the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s first ever exhibition at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in London.
Dr Cable saw how the firm supplies 100 units a year to its customers, employing 25 people with a turnover of £900,000.
From left, Manufacturing Advisory Service’s Stephen Peacock, Flying Fish's Emma Pullen and Business Secretary Vince Cable
The Business Secretary praised the role of SMEs, who make up 95% of England’s manufacturing businesses, employing 1.1 million people.
Dr Cable said: “We are rightly proud of the manufacturing talent we have in this country, but larger household names are just part of the success story.
“There are more than 110,000 small to medium sized businesses, who are investing in developing new products and technologies that will be used across the world.
“The Government wants to make the UK the best place to start and grow a business.
"With the support of the Manufacturing Advisory Service, SMEs are overcoming challenges and identifying new opportunities, leading to increased sales and the creation of new jobs.”
Established in 2001 by hovercraft designer Ivan Pullen, Flying Fish produces four different models of hovercraft at its factory in east Kent.
The firm expects to build 105 units in 2013 from 70 last year after improving stock control, manufacturing methods and efficiency.
Managing director Emma Pullen said: "We're growing the business very fast and we're genuinely impressed with the amount of advice and support that's available.
"Some 80% of our production is for export, mainly to the emerging markets made possible by the significant help from the BIS, UK Trade Investment and most recently the Manufacturing Advisory Service."