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25.01.06
Heat pump business expands

Graduate Chris Stephens has been helping a successful Falmouth-based, environmentally friendly business expand.

Chris, 28, was taken on under the Unlocking Cornish Potential (UCP) scheme and has now completed his first year at Kensa Engineering Ltd. His employers are so impressed they are going to recruit a second UCP graduate to work alongside him. The company says he has helped to increase sales as well as make the company more efficient so more time is available for research, development and marketing.

Kensa is the UK's only manufacturer of a full range of ground source heat pumps, a renewable energy product that provides space heating for homes and buildings.

UCP is a scheme that places graduates with businesses. Run by Cornwall College, the Combined Universities in Cornwall project has received Objective One investment and provides subsidised wages and a mentor for each graduate for up to 12 months.

Chris, who was born in Cornwall and graduated from Swansea University with both a Bachelors (BEng) and Masters (MRes) degree in Materials Science and Engineering, said: "I wanted to return to Cornwall. The aim of my project was to assist in finding new applications and providing technical and sales support for a fast expanding renewable energy product manufacturer. My engineering qualifications were actually much more research specific, but my role with Kensa has enabled me to develop a multitude of real-life business and manufacturing skills, most of which are now utilised at a management level. The relatively small size of the company has allowed me to gain an in-depth knowledge, not just of our products, but also of the manufacturing industry as a whole."

Chris was taken on in November 2004 and in the year has developed an Applications Department, which helps to filter sales and technical enquiries through all stages of a client's project. This helps to ensure that the company's products are applied and installed correctly, generating good case studies and helping to protect the reputation of both the brand and the UK heat pump market as a whole. He has also been able to develop other skills relevant to a busy manufacturing organisation, including general management duties, marketing and sales.

Richard Freeborn, managing director of Kensa said: "The Company has gained the skills and expertise of a top level engineering graduate, the direct impact of which can be seen by increased sales and decreased lead times on products to market. This is because more of the technical issues surrounding the specification of Kensa's products can be discussed with the customers and dealt with at an earlier stage in the project. Quicker response times for technical enquiries has helped to reduce the time to order, the overall effect has been to free up additional time in other areas of the business for marketing, awareness raising, and more research and design.

"Unlocking Cornish Potential has found us a graduate who is multi-disciplined, self-motivated and now an integral and essential part of the company and its operations. This level of graduate is hard to come by in the South West, but essential to aid the progression of small and medium enterprises such as Kensa, and hopefully his work with the company will aid our growth enormously."

Allyson Glover, of Unlocking Cornish Potential, said: "Chris has joined Kensa Engineering Ltd at a pivotal point in the growth of the business and has developed a department that is essential in taking the company to the next stage. We are now looking for another graduate of Chris's calibre to expand his department. Kensa is going to be a big player in renewable energy products and I'm sure will continue to grow at a rapid rate."

For further information please contact Clare Morgan on 01872 223439 or email: cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the Unlocking Cornish Potential project through the European Social Fund (ESF).

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Editor's notes:

The main product Kensa design and manufacture is a renewable heating appliance that is used in both domestic and commercial sector buildings. However, Kensa also design and manufacture bespoke systems for the marine industry.

The company has been in operation for seven years, with a total of 11 employees.

With rising fuel prices and the public's increasing energy awareness, there has been an urgent need for alternative fuel sources (According to DTI statistics, overall the price paid for fuel in real terms in the UK rose by 10.6 per cent between the third quarter of 204 and the third quarter 2005. In November 2005 the average cost of crude oil acquired by refineries was 40% higher than the same time in 2004). See - www.dti.gov.uk/energy/inform/energy_prices/qep_dec05.pdf

With Kensa's products leading the field for easy to install, economic and energy efficient heating appliances the company has had to undergo rapid expansion to keep up with ever increasing demand for its products. In particular, the company required an engineer to help specify appropriate products to customers to ensure that the technology is applied correctly.

UCP has supported over 130 similar business development projects in the last 2 years and will continue to bring companies and graduates together until the end of the current Objective One programme.

UCP programmes place graduates with small and medium sized businesses in Cornwall and can last for up to 12 months. Investment in UCP through Objective One means that participating businesses receive 30% of the cost of taking on their graduate for the duration of the project. Graduates and their employers also receive support from an independent mentor, 70% of previous UCP graduates have been offered a permanent position with their host company at the end of the project. UCP was the first project launched by the Combined Universities in Cornwall (CUC) initiative to offer direct business support. It is managed by Cornwall College.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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