In 2008 local Engineering company WEC teamed up with Blackburn Rovers to become one of the clubs main sponsors. This including the sponsorship of the Darwen End Stand which was renamed the WEC stand. WEC has been trading for over 30 years and has grown beyond all recognition to become a multi million pound enterprise.
Group Director Mr Wayne Wilde kindly agreed to do a question and answers session with me for the BRFCS Supporters site, to give fans an insight into off the field events which ultimately have an effect on the field, with extra revenue which these types of partnerships can generate for the club
1. Who are WEC and what do they do?
Family owned Metal Fabrication company. 32 years old. Mainly based in Darwen but also a factory in Knowsley and a new factory in Sherburn-in-Elmet.
Approx £30m turnover with >300 employees.
2. It's well documented that you are a avid Blackburn Rovers supporter, could you explain how you came to support Rovers?
Local lad, born at Queens Park Hospital, went to Shadsworth School and supported Blackburn from very early on along with my dad.
3.In 2008 WEC signed a two year deal to sponsor the club and as part of the sponsorship deal the Darwen End was renamed the WEC stand, How proud a moment was it for you to incorporate your business with your passion as a supporter of the club?
Exceptionally proud moment for me personally. The Board of Directors at WEC are not generally football fans so its mainly driven through me so to see the naming of the Stand was a very proud time, and still is.
4. Has the extra exposure WEC gets worldwide had a positive impact on the companies profile?
It has been a very good branding building exercise locally to increase our profile. In terms of further a field it doesn’t really give much exposure.
5. Sponsorship is a two way street, how has this partnership worked for WEC?, and what support has the club been able to give you and the other directors in return? i.e. guest speakers ect
We have an apprentice of the year awards evening every year and BRFC has sent a guest awards presenter to each event which has gone done exceptionally well with the apprentices. We have had Andre Ooijer, Sam Allardyce and Ryan Nelson presenting so far.
6.The club was took over in December 2010, which spelled the end of the Walkers Era by Venkys. What are your first impressions of the new owners vision for the club?
In order to move forward we had to get new owners who would invest money in the club. The jury is out current as we have not seen this investment in the playing squad other than through trading. Hopefully once all the dust has settled and lessons are learnt from some of the PR mistakes made we can build a positive future.
7. Supporters were delighted that WEC signed a new deal to continue their sponsorship with the club this summer as it was great for continuity, and great for the town that a local company was playing an important role for the growth of the club. How long does this deal last? Has this deal got the potential to open up new avenue's for WEC due to the new marketing strategy the club wishes to explore with worldwide brand awareness?
The new deal is only a 1 year extension. 98% of our business is UK based so I don’t feel there is a great deal of potential for exports but you never know !
8.2006 saw the brith of WEC's Training Academy which has been given the personal seal of approval from the Prime Minister David Cameron. Can you explain how the academy works and potential opportunities for young people who are looking for a career in Engineering?
We introduce 10 new apprentices every year onto out training program onto a 5 year scheme. They are fully taught all aspects of welding and metalworking by our full time in house trainer and also receive off site training. Applications for a position are accepted annually and we would prefer local people to be accepted first for obvious reasons.
9.Does WEC have an executive box at Ewood Park? If so has WEC been able to utilise this to entertain both potential New customers and Existing clients within the companies portfolio?
We have 2 tables in the Premier Suite where we entertain customers. This is used to thank our customers for their business and to build relationships with them away from the work environment.
10. The growth of WEC has been phenomenal, What other projects are the company involved with, and what sort of things are we likely to see during the next 12 months?
We are currently building a replacement Dome for Darwen Tower and a 18 foot stainless steel sculpture of a Spitfire that will be erected in Darwen Town Centre. Both made in the Apprentice Training School and donated free of charge.
11. Finally what are your hopes for the season both on and off the pitch?
Large scale investment to help us compete at the top table, as has been promised ! Currently its to stay in the Premier League and build on stability with all the new staff and players that have arrived at the club recently.
A Big thank you to Wayne Wilde and the WEC Group for kindly giving their valuable time to share their experiences with the fans