Kirsty was first contacted in 2007, after the Birmingham Post reported a confrontation with Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. A letter from the Chamber, the city council and the Manufacturing Advisory Service West Midlands was sent to local firms urging them – where appropriate – to consider offshoring.
Kirsty, who was then director and general manager of Smethwick-based Professional Polishing Services which had been a member of the Chamber since the 1980s, was disgusted that the Chamber should condone any move that threatened manufacturing jobs in the region:
“What they are proposing will take work away from the West Midlands and once you do that then you will never get it back . . . It may be old fashioned but I think firms have a moral duty to protect their employees and exporting manufacturing abroad is no way to do that.”
She felt that the Chamber should be doing more to support the interests of manufacturing rather than encouraging firms to export work abroad at the expense of local jobs.
Attwood Award: 2009
Alderman Matt Redmond presented Kirsty with an Attwood Award in 2009, celebrating her stance which would have been appreciated by Thomas Attwood, the city’s philanthropic first MP and she replied – at a time when the ‘downturn’ had began to bite – “despite the recession we are still investing in plant and people.”
Now managing director, she had designed an ambitious Five Year Plan but by December 2008 as the financial crisis began to bite the workforce was on one shift instead of two and there were redundancies. Six months later they were able to re-employ two members of staff and buy new machinery. She wrote: “Perversely we have found that morale has never been better. Our team are more flexible and responsive than ever before. With a change in middle management structure, staff are stepping up and taking responsibility and whilst it is hard work we’re relishing the challenge. “
A memorable address at the Council House
In 2010, at a mayoral reception at the Council House Kirsty presented three Attwood Awards to the designers of Birmingham’s Green New Deal now being implemented by Energy Savers. In a memorable address she said:
“The emphasis on a local supply chain is something I personally applaud. Too often we as a society have contributed to the demise of Birmingham and UK based businesses by spending our money elsewhere – our automotive sector is the most obvious example of this and we all know its history. This project is a step forward rather than a step backwards and the emphasis on the local supply chain will make a difference to the big business monopolies.”
With more enterprising and loyal manufacturers like Kirsty, who also supports several charities and corporate responsibility events, the region and its people would prosper.