• Fri. Dec 1st, 2023

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Wooler steel engineering firm builds capacity with rural grant fund investment

A commercial engineering firm in Wooler, specialising in large-scale steel frame construction and livestock feeding and handling equipment, has expanded its operations and created new jobs with the aid of a grant from the North East Rural Growth Network.

Glendale Engineering has already created five new full-time jobs, with two more planned in the next six months, following investment to increase its steel production capacity with specialist equipment. This enables the business to take on larger scale projects than were previously possible and increase its profitability through the efficiencies delivered through its new plant and machinery.

The expansion follows the award of a grant of £88,500 from the North East Rural Growth Network (NERGN) towards an overall investment of £221,167.99 by the business. The grant was used to purchase machinery, including a semi-automatic band saw and rollers, a variety of welding equipment, forklift and side loader. This equipment has been installed in a new 30,000 ft2 steel frame factory space, built by Glendale Engineering on its site, to enable large-scale manufacturing to take place.

Advance Northumberland’s Economic Growth Team recognised that the project was a good fit with the aims of the NERGN programme and helped the company to prepare the application to aid in securing the grant and enabling the project to proceed.

The investment made by the business will enable it to expand its current steel fabrication business, which includes building stores for supermarket giants like Asda and Aldi, schools, sports centres and data centres as well as farm buildings, specialist livestock feeding and handling equipment to boost agricultural productivity.

Glendale Engineering which currently employs 60 staff, started 36 years ago by Gordon and Graeme Wilson in their dad’s garage at Milfield. The business moved to Wooler 19 years ago where it occupies a three-acre site.

Glendale Engineering Finance Director Paul McKenna said: “We’ve been expanding rapidly over the past five and a half years, growing from a turnover of £4.8 million in 2014 to a record £9.3 million in 2019.

“Before the investment we were getting more and more orders and we knew we would need to increase our steel production capacity in order to take advantage of the opportunities presented by larger contracts. Without it we wouldn’t have been able to take on the jobs that we are currently doing.

“We are moving our agricultural production into our new unit. This will free up much needed space in our main factory helping us increase our commercial steel fabrication and, in the process, create more jobs. That means that we will be able to accept orders we have previously had to turn down.”

More efficient and effective manufacturing processes are also being bolstered through the introduction of a dual robotic CNC machine. Aspects of work that were previously done by hand in preparing steel beams is now done by two robots, not only speeding up production but freeing up skilled workers to concentrate on other aspects – further increasing output at the site.

Rural Growth Network Manager Katy McIntosh, at Advance Northumberland said: “Glendale Engineering is an excellent example of a rural business that is creating jobs through investment. The business currently has contracts in London, Paris, Edinburgh, Thirsk and Gateshead – all being supplied from this site in Northumberland.

“The investment is set to increase steel productivity by at least 20% enabling Glendale Engineering to hit the tight deadlines demanded by large-scale projects. The business was at full capacity, which left it with untapped demand for orders for commercial as well as farm buildings, steel framed housing and gantries used in mining.”

Focusing on rural communities in Northumberland, County Durham and Gateshead the North East Rural Growth Network is stimulating business growth and job creation through the application of specific capital grant funding and expertise. In 2015, NERGN secured £6 million capital investment from the Local Growth Fund through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).

Colin Bell, Business Growth Director at the North East LEP said: “The North East Rural Growth Network funds are designed to offer support in exactly this type of situation, allowing companies like Glendale Engineering to grow and create more jobs.”

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