A construction products manufacturer is hoping to help protect Britain against flooding during extreme weather with the opening of a new factory extension.
Barnsley-based Naylor Industries says its £5m investment will allow it to make larger diameter pipes to carry big volumes of surface water.
The family-owned company has installed a high-tech production line to manufacture large diameter plastic drainage pipes for its customers in the infrastructure, agriculture and utilities markets.
Naylor Industries said the decision to make the investment was partly driven by the increasingly unpredictable climate.
Edward Naylor, chief executive of Naylor Industries, said: “Every year we seem to be seeing once-in-a-lifetime weather events.
“As it rains more heavily, we need larger capacity pipelines to deal with storm water.
“Large diameter pipes are an important part of measures to defend the country against flooding.”
The Duke of Kent opened the facility. He toured the factory with Mr Naylor and met with staff members and apprentices.
“Queen Victoria was on the throne when my great-grandfather founded Naylor Industries,” Mr Naylor said.
He added: “It was an honour to show the Duke of Kent around our facilities.”
The business was founded in 1890 and originally manufactured clay pipes but expanded into plastic in 2000.
Mr Naylor says British manufacturing has a bright future. Naylor trades internationally and has exported pipes onto every continent and into 65 overseas markets.
“If you use the best available technology and you are efficient in your raw material sourcing and processes, the fact that your unit cost of labour is more expensive than overseas competitors is mitigated by the fact that they have to pay a lot of money to ship their products across the world,” he said.
The firm’s plastic pipe production uses large volumes of recycled post-consumer and post-industrial plastic waste.
Naylor made the investment decision before Britain voted to leave the European Union.
“We progressed this development despite the outcome of the Brexit referendum,” the chief executive said.
He added: “Although this has introduced some uncertainty into our key markets, we hope in due course to get our share of the big infrastructure projects which are in the pipeline such as the high-speed rail, smart motorway and nuclear power projects”
The investment will enable the firm to manufacture larger, double-walled pipes, which are 750mm, 900mm and 1050mm in diameter.
It also creates 20 new jobs and increases capacity at the Cawthorne site, which already manufactures up to 50 miles of pipe per day.
While the main plant was purchased from its German machinery supplier, around a dozen local suppliers were engaged in the factory extension project and enabling works.
Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership provided a £615,000 grant to support the project.
When Edward Naylor took over as chief executive in 1993, Naylor was loss-making and had sales of £12m.
This year, the company’s turnover broke through the £50m barrier for the first time. Today it employs 400 people at six sites across the UK. It also has a consumer business called Yorkshire Flowerpots.
Every year, the Naylor group manufactures enough pipe to stretch around the world twice.
Its previous major investment was in 2008.