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Member Interview: Stephen Blythe of Jaltek – Combining Innovation and Growth with Social Value

Written by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce | 13 Dec 2022

Stephen Blythe, Business Manager at Jaltek Systems Ltd., is proud to be part of the Luton electronics manufacturer that has seen its business double over the last four years, and is targeting further ambitious growth across sectors including Automotive & Electric Vehicles (EV), Clean Energy, Medical, and Defence & Aerospace.

It’s a local success story with international reach, and one Stephen feels the company’s membership of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce has supported in many fundamental ways. We caught up with him recently to learn more.

Practical advice: a trusted source

“We wish we could clone them”, says Stephen of the Chamber team, and it’s clear that, for insight and advice, they’re his regular go-to resource.

“Their ability to signpost funding opportunities is stand-out”, he says. “Thanks to them we were directed to SEMLEP and the Recovery and Resilience Grant, which contributed to the cost of equipping our new site.”

We were so impressed by the process that we then introduced Chamber CEO Justin Richardson to another company, and the Chamber was able to help them obtain a grant too.”

“At the same time,” Stephen continues, “the Chamber’s connection to expertise in their membership means when I need advice on a specific issue, I often turn to them in the first instance.”

“When we recently expanded our premises, for example, and I was researching both tax implications and building survey requirements, Justin’s number was the first I called.”

Enhancing reputation and social good

Stephen also values the Chamber’s ability to support reputational initiatives and deserving local causes, particularly as the latter have been close to Jaltek’s heart throughout its 30-year history.

“It was the Chamber that put us forward for the UK Business Hero Award two years ago, which celebrated local businesses’ community efforts during the pandemic,” he explains, “and we were delighted to win, in the company of huge names like Vauxhall and Lockheed Martin”.

“But it’s also the Chamber’s ability to introduce and connect us to other organisations that enable us to add to the social value we deliver that is a real differentiator.”

“Through the Chamber, we’ve become involved with Bedford Blues Rugby Club and Bedfordshire County Cricket Club, organisations that share our passion for giving back to the communities that sustain us. It’s networking, but at a much more strategic, corporate social responsibility level.”

The Chamber is also, Stephen explains, a forum to “learn from your peers”, whilst simultaneously enabling others to learn from you. He calls this a “virtuous circle”, affirming that what Jaltek invests in this process “it gets back in spadefuls.”

Content, training, and a voice at the top table

Coming from an organisation that has invested extensively in community recruitment and training, Stephen also applauds the Chamber’s work in championing these issues (the Local Skills Improvement Plan is a good example), and its determination to represent this and other local business issues at the “top table” of Government.

Content-wise, he singles out the evolving Chamber newsletter for particular praise, but, equally, makes the point that most Chambers’ websites don’t offer anything like the extent of helpful, useful blogs, articles, and resources that the Bedfordshire Chamber website does.

Talking up the Chamber: a fair exchange

Stephen reveals that Jaltek has been invited to collaborate with the Chamber on presentations and speaking opportunities, and that the company cross-promotes the Chamber through its own marketing and networking activities wherever possible.

“We promote the Chamber because they do a great job,” he says. “Their leadership acts with energy and purpose, and understands the value of people, and their team is brilliant.”

“We would recommend that any local business in a position to do so should consider becoming a member of Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce.”

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of Chamber membership, call us on (01582) 522448.

Topics: member interview

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