A HELICOPTER cover company is flying high with the support of a business growth programme.
Based in Wrexham, Air Covers is one of the world’s foremost protective cover firms, specialising in helicopter, marine and land vehicle protection.
The company supplies eight European defence agencies including the UK Ministry of Defence, offshore helicopter operations and the international superyacht industry.
Directors John and Sasha Pattinson started the business 15 years ago from their kitchen table while John was a projects manager for an aerospace company specialising in high altitude balloons.
Fast forward to 2019 and they have 10 employees and a state-of-the-art cutting machine to manufacture these unique products, which have weathered all climates and scenarios on the toughest deployed operations from Antarctica to the Middle East, protecting against UV, salt, heat, sandstorms, humidity, ice and snow.
Their success has been steady and sustained, but the couple felt a management and leadership qualification would help them improve further.
Sasha signed up for the 20Twenty Business Growth Programme last year and says the results since completing the course have been instant.
“It was certainly very useful to me as despite running the business for many years I had never had any formal management training and had relied on gut instinct,” she said.
“The programme had an immediate effect back in the workplace in helping us to deal with issues, better manage our staff and approach things in a more focused way.
“Everyone is different, there is no one way to solve problems and it also helped me to balance tasks and priorities better, while learning how other companies attending the course did things – it gave me great insight and was very beneficial.”
Air Covers has grown organically since 2004, and Sasha says they will continue to expand while exploring new territories, including the Middle East.
Helicopters of all shapes and sizes are their forte – notably those landing on super yachts or mobile in harsh environments such as oil rigs – though they can make covers for any type of vehicle.
“Our first contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) was for Apache helicopters,” said Sasha.
“We now make covers for every type of MoD helicopter and have diversified to manufacture them for weapons on ships, tanks and other military vehicles.
“Business is very good, and we are working with global organisations, which is phenomenal when you consider I made the first two or three covers myself by hand all those years ago.”
She added: “There is plenty of scope to do more; there’s a whole world out there so we’re not going to get bored!
“And with the experience gained on the 20Twenty programme our systems now operate smoother than ever, so graduating from the course will ultimately contribute to our growth in the future.”
Aimed at firms in Wrexham, Flintshire and Powys, the 20Twenty programme is up to 70% subsidised by the European Social Fund (ESF) and has welcomed more than 1,000 owners, directors and managers over the years.
Jackie Whittaker, 20Twenty Business Development Manager, says the experiential nature of the series of courses – and the huge savings that can be made due to the ESF funding via Welsh Government – have made it one of the most innovative and well-attended leadership and management qualifications in the country.
“I am delighted that attending the course has had a positive impact on the systems and processes at Air Covers,” she said.
“It’s a fascinating company and another example of a North Wales business operating internationally with great success. I wish them the best of luck for the future.”