S&A Fabrications is based in Barnard Castle and designs and manufactures steel framed buildings for the agriculture and industrial sectors. The company was established in 1978 and run by the original owners until 2018, when Simon Pelly and Jonathan Kirk bought the business having both worked there for over ten years.
Using traditional manufacturing methods and processes, the company had always been successful. However, at the point of the takeover Simon knew that a new ethos around innovation was needed if the company was to grow. His aim was to use innovation as a way of giving the company the edge in a competitive market, setting them apart from its competitors.
Simon found out about the Innovation Programme though a local business networking event, where he was carrying out research into what support was available to the company. He was introduced to an external business consultant, an innovation specialist, who worked directly with him for around 12 hours in total.
As a result of the support the company made significant investments in new machinery and processes, including a state-of-the-art automated CNC drilling line and a new saw drilling line. These investments meant that the company’s manufacturing processes could be fully automated. Reflecting on the impact of the support, Simon said: “Collaborating with a specialist was very useful, just having a fresh pair of eyes made a huge difference to the way I was thinking and the changes I wanted to make to my company.”
S&A Fabrications has since increased its workforce by 25% and now employs 40 full time staff, as well as between 20 and 30 sub-contractors at any one time. Turnover since the takeover has doubled and is on target to reach £12m by the end of 2022. Commenting on these results, Simon said: “The positive impact innovation has had on the company is clear to see in terms of employment and turnover, but it also brought about cost efficiencies in terms of savings and less wastage in the manufacturing process.”
Like many businesses, Covid has had an impact due to the increased costs and reduced availability of raw materials. The company is also working hard to recruit more staff to deal with the increase in orders, as well as driving through changes to ensure it meets the environmental and sustainability requirements of customers. However, as a result of the changes made through the support of the Innovation Programme, Simon is confident that the company is in a good position to meet these challenges. Having seen the positive effects of innovation first-hand, he is also keen to encourage other businesses to embrace innovation and seek support from organisations such as the North East BIC.
If you would like to speak to the BICInnovation team about support and funding for innovative projects, contact us on 0191 516 6039 or read more here.
The North East Business and Innovation Centre (BIC) has received £899,250 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund for the North East SME Innovation Programme 2 as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.