Whether it’s to transport medical supplies, create a spooky scene in a theatre production or clean engineering parts, demand for dry ice is sliding upwards and a Leicester-based business is expanding to take full advantage.

Previously called Clean Surface, Dry Ice Network (UK) is a manufacturing business that makes dry ice (yes it doesn’t just happen!) and is growing with the help of Leicestershire business support project, Collaborate for Growth.

Dry Ice Network, based on the Troon Industrial Estate, manufactures dry ice from liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) supplying a wide range of industries on a ‘same or next day’ basis in the UK. It has seven full-time employees and is led by Managing Director, Mike Bennett who started the company in 1995 as a designer and manufacturer of dry ice blast-cleaning machines. However, since 2008 when the business first started manufacturing dry ice to secure better quality and on-time supplies, the dry ice turnover has grown year-on-year and now accounts for 85% of the business.

Its dry ice is used for a number of applications connected with cleaning, shipping temperature-sensitive goods for food, medical and biomedical as well as film, theatre, photography, engineering and education uses. Dry Ice Network supplies a wide range of industries from heavy industrial through to small medical and research institutes as well as cool chain (temperature controlled) couriers.

Dry Ice Network successfully applied for a Collaborate grant of £25,000 towards the purchase of two new dry ice manufacturing machines known in the trade as pelletizers. The machines will allow the business to increase production capacity from 378 to 500 tonnes over the next two years, reduce its carbon footprint as well as maintain a competitive advantage through its flexibility in reacting to customers that have extreme, short delivery requests.

Mike has also taken advantage of business development support from a Collaborate adviser, including advice on GDPR and marketing which led to the rebrand and introduction of client newsletters.

He said: “We win a lot of our business because we offer a quick, flexible service which our multinational competitors can’t. With Collaborate support we are expanding the business and can now offer same day deliveries on large quantities as well as small lots. Dry ice has a short shelf life when it reaches our customers so they frequently need unplanned deliveries on an urgent basis and now we are perfectly placed to respond.

“As a business owner I know it’s hard to take time out to work on the business, but to me, it’s vital for our future survival so I’m grateful to Collaborate for the free advice to help me grow the company.”

Mike added: “This support has enabled us to look at employing two new people as we expand and is already showing a positive effect on our bottom line.”

Leicester City Council is the accountable body for Collaborate. Regeneration Projects & Programmes Manager, Joanne Ives said: “Dry Ice Network is a perfect example of a business that is constantly looking ahead and planning for future growth. I’m delighted we’ve been able to support the business both financially and with business advice.”

Collaborate is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and partners, Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Food and Drink Forum.

Although the business growth fund has now been allocated, the Collaborate project continues to offer free specialist business advice along with a programme of workshops and seminars. Businesses interested in any future funding can contact the team to be put on a waiting list.

Further details on Collaborate can be seen here.

Pic1: MD Mike Bennett with the new dry ice making machinery

Pic 2: Joe Gibbons, Production Manager, gathers dry ice which is packed into polystyrene boxes for distribution.

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