The 15,000th new road sign for BEAR Scotland has rolled off the production line at the social enterprise that supports veterans and others with disabilities, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company.

Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company (SMBC), based in Erskine, employs veterans from the Armed Forces who may need support adjusting to life after service and others with disabilities. The company manufactures commercial signage and printing services, including high-quality road signs.

Road maintenance and management company BEAR Scotland was one of SMBC’s first customers when it was established in 2018. Since then, SBMC has produced 15,000 high-quality signs for BEAR Scotland including trunk road directional signs, warning signs, tourist signs and larger bespoke signage for road safety projects which have been erected across the trunk road network.

In August 2020, the relationship was cemented further when BEAR Scotland took on responsibility for the trunk roads in south east Scotland. Its tender appointed SBMC as the preferred sign supplier for the new contract which lasts for at least eight years, providing SBMC with further security and employment opportunities.

Richay Crawford, a veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is one of the many who have felt the benefits of SBMC. Richay struggled to find long term employment opportunities after his time in the Armed Forces, despite completing a degree after his 12 years of military service. By late 2019, anxiety and frustration was affecting his mental and physical health. It was at this point that he spotted a role at SBMC.

Richay said: “After some difficult years, I finally found a company that understood what I could bring to the workplace. They took me on with low self-esteem and a lack of work history, and gave me the skills and motivation needed to reapply my focus in a new role. I am now in full time employment and my outlook is so much better. After starting work on the factory floor in sign manufacturing, I’ve taken a step into a new role and am now a sales executive.

“I am forever grateful for the opportunities and support offered to me by SBMC – and we wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for BEAR Scotland. There’s not a week that goes by where the team are not working on new BEAR orders. The company have shown steadfast commitment to our products, and in doing so, ensure that veterans like me can contribute once more to the society we once served”.

Ex-forces members of SBMC have also visited BEAR Scotland depots to provide inspirational talks as part of company-wide safety initiatives.

Mark Godsell, Commercial Director at BEAR Scotland, said: “To date, we have placed 2,190 orders and have always been impressed by the dedication, quality service and positive social impact that the company delivers.

“We’re proud to work with Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, as it provides essential employment opportunities for our brave veterans, and we look forward to developing further opportunities to support this honourable initiative.”

Michelle Ferguson, Director of Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, said: “BEAR Scotland is our largest client and, due to their belief in our capabilities, we have significantly grown our client base and helped more veterans and others with disabilities than we ever would have without them.

“Gary Jamieson, one of our veterans, sums it up perfectly: ‘When BEAR places an order with us, they aren’t just buying a sign, they are changing the lives of veterans’.

“We are incredibly thankful to BEAR Scotland for the trust they have put in our team and look forward to further collaboration in the coming years.”

BEAR Scotland and SBMC recently won the ‘Partnership Award’ at the 2020 Highways Awards in recognition of their important and valuable work together.