Move to diversify sees steel firm build first plant

A COMPANY founded during the 2009 recession to manufacture iron gates for residential properties has built its first factory after expanding into new markets.

CH Fabrications, based in Huddersfield, decided to build its headquarters on an 18,000 sq ft plot of land on Leeds Road to house its growing operation after diversifying into designing and making steel frames for buildings.

The manufacturer, which now has 14 employees, sub-lets the fabrication of steelwork as well as designing, fabricating and erecting steel framed buildings itself.

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The business was originally based at the home of Carl Hurst, founder of CH Fabrications, until he spotted an opportunity to diversify the firm’s operations after the closure of a local competitor.

Co-director Tony Bennett said: “Carl and I have been in the industry for a combined 55 years and knew the time was right to start a company like this. The competition is among small companies doing major steel fabrication.”

The pair designed the new factory and the steelwork to suit the company’s operational requirements.

The company has invested £200,000 in its new base, including the purchase of two overhead cranes, welding plants and a bespoke saw and drill line.

To continue production levels, it secured an £88,000 factoring facility from Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, which allows the firm to gain a percentage of invoice sales before a client has paid its bill.

Mr Bennett said the deal had freed up cashflow for the business to buy materials which helped to meet the increased demand from new business wins since the move.

CH Fabrications now has the capacity to produce 80 tonnes of steelwork per week and plans to increase output further by securing larger contracts across the region.

Charlotte Jackson, regional manager at Lloyds TSB Commercial Finance, said: “A factoring facility acts as an alternative funding source and can be helpful for a growing firm.

“The gap between an invoice being raised and a client payment can vary between a week and a few months and it is important that a manufacturer has the funds to work on new projects without disrupting the daily running of the business.”

Mr Hurst said: “We started the company in 2009 as a small operation that manufactured iron gates for residential properties.

“As we built a solid customer base and won more contracts, we decided it was time to increase our production capabilities and we now have a factory which is tailored to our needs.

“We spotted a gap in the market to provide both a fabrication facility for the steelwork industry and also provide a commercially aware design and build service to the construction market.”

He added: “The factoring facility allows us to invest in future client projects without having to wait for payment from completed work.”

The company works on projects of all sizes, from the production of a single beam, to designing and making entire steel frames for buildings. It has completed projects for Aldi, Lidl, KFC and Costa, as well as industrial warehouses and office blocks.

Mr Hurst added: “Our ambition is to secure even bigger contracts across Yorkshire so we can expand further and create more local opportunities for the community. We now work on a commercial scale and offer fabrication as well as welding services.”

Future plans include creating a shot-blast and paint division near the existing factory.

Mr Bennett said: “We want to stabilise ourselves for a couple of years and get as efficient as possible but the next move would be to build a shot-blast and paint facility. At the moment we have to buy in the steel already shot-blasted and our paint store is in Wakefield.”