Get to know our Manufacturing Growth Manager in the EM3 region – Steve Sharp | Manufacturing Growth Programme

Steve Sharp is our Manufacturing Growth Manager for the EM3 region. We have quizzed Steve to get to know him a little bit more. .

To get in touch with Steve to find out how he can support your SME Manufacturing business with free tailored support and grant funding, contact him today via

1. How would you describe the Manufacturing Growth Programme (MGP) to a manufacturer that has never heard of MGP?

A helping hand that can break down barriers. Most business owners or directors have a good idea of where they want to get to or what they want to achieve for the business, and we can help to provide the knowledge, expertise and contacts to help them grow.

2. The EM3 region covers lots of areas, what do you like best about supporting this region? And do you live close by?

The diversity and geographical spread of businesses in the EM3 region makes it a great place to work. Since becoming a Growth Manager in January 2020, I’ve worked with manufacturing businesses involved in many sectors, including food production, automotive parts, medical equipment, general engineering, electronic equipment, high-end accessories and celebratory balloons. As a bonus, the countryside in Hampshire and Surrey is a great mix of rolling downs, heathland and river valleys, and always a joy to travel around.

Living in Romsey, just a 10-minute drive from the edge of the New Forest and not too far from the motorway network, is ideal for covering the patch, although with the current Covid restrictions I’ve been operating from home since March.

3. What type of manufacturing businesses have you been involved with lately?

My 5 most recent clients have been: (i) An automotive and marine lighting manufacturer, (ii) a meter and data-logger manufacturer, (iii) A start-up surgical facemask manufacturer, (iv) a sausage (and other meat products) maker and (v) a company producing celebratory balloons and displays.

4. Sustainability is a real hot topic. How could a manufacturer improve their sustainability and should this be high on their priority list? Could MGP help with this at all?

Sustainability is a rightly a hot topic. We cannot go on exploiting limited resources and ignoring the consequences. An increasing number of businesses are very keen to improve their sustainability, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it can actually improve their bottom line and add value to their brand. MGP can help by providing guidance and grants that can assist, for example, with engaging experts to develop and implement appropriate strategies or to attain ISO 14001 accreditation.

5. What have been the most exciting outcomes from the support you have given to SME manufacturers?

Seeing and hearing about the positive impact a clearly defined business plan can have and watching a company diversify into a new product area, helped by the former managing director of Smith + Nephew Medical.

6. Post-lockdown, it has been said (from research conducted by The Manufacturer) that now is the time for many manufacturers to create new business models, would you agree? Could MGP help a manufacturer to do this?

I couldn’t agree more. For obvious reasons, many businesses are currently operating at reduced capacity and this provides the ideal opportunity to review current systems, review objectives and develop mid to long term strategies; perhaps looking at new products or new markets. MGP could definitely help with this through signposting, advising and providing grant.

7. What are your interests outside of work?

Outside of family, my two main interests are motorcycling and food, and if I can combine the two, that’s just about perfect. A trip to Dorset to eat freshly prepared crab sandwiches accompanied by a small glass of something local takes some beating, and I enjoy Monday evening ride-outs with a few friends. Having just bought an Adventure bike I’m looking forward to crossing the Channel and exploring further afield when the restrictions are lifted.

On Sundays, I’ll invariably be in the kitchen, glass in hand, preparing the Sunday roast, while my wife wonders why I find it necessary to use every pot, pan and utensil

8. What are you most passionate about?

New experiences. Life’s too short not to push boundaries and explore new horizons.

9. What activities helped you to cope with the lockdown?

Vastly increased ebay activity. (I buy way too much and sell way too little!)

10. What was your first car?

A maroon Ford Cortina Mk II, which my parents bought from my grandfather and gifted to me in the hope that I wouldn’t acquire a motorcycle. (It once carried me and eight other apprentices, but the less said about that, the better!) Their plan worked for a while, but marriage and limited means resulted in the sale of the car and purchase of a second-hand Honda CB200 motorcycle.

11. What is your proudest achievement?

Raising two fine daughters! Outside of family life, I would have to say it’s gaining my BSc with the Open University and Masters degree with University of Portsmouth

12. What would you like your legacy to look like once you retire?

I’ll not be too concerned about a legacy, just happy if the businesses I worked with have benefitted in some way. Hopefully, I’ll be busy renovating a run-down property and enjoying the sunshine in Greece or Portugal, with a rescue dog or two at my side.

Watch this video to hear how Steve Sharp has supported Frazer Nash with their growth plans.