Heritage toolmaker is expanding overseas

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A YORKSHIRE heritage tool-making company with an international reputation is developing new products, taking on apprentices, exporting world-wide and expanding.

Dean, Smith and Grace, based in Halifax and Keighley, was founded in 1865. Last summer it was subject to a buyout by a new management team that is already making changes.

Carl Griffiths, the managing director, is one of a group of people who bought the company last August.

“We want to develop the company and move forward the classic heritage brand,” he said. All of the new management team have a background in manufacturing dating back more than 25 years and they are all a similar age.

He and his colleagues are very pro-UK manufacturing and believe there is world-beating manufacturing in this country. They currently export to China, America and the Middle East.

They employ 48 people, have plans to expand and so far have taken on two apprentices this year. “It is the first time in 20 years the company has done this “ Mr Griffiths said of the apprentices. “It has given the company new lifeblood to have the apprentices on board.”

They now have three sites. One is at Keighley and two are at Halifax dedicated to machine tool manufacturing.

Although the machine tool industry is a relatively small world, Mr Griffiths believes the company is different to its competitors in its approach.

“The management team has world-wide experience,” he explains. “I’ve worked with NASA in the past before I was with Dean, Smith and Grace.”

The company is immensely pleased to have developed two new products which have launched this year. The first is a D-bore range of deep-hole boreing machines. The unique selling point of the business is its hollow spindle lathe that has gained an international reputation. The machines are used by the oil and gas sectors, and in aerospace industries.

Unfortunately he concedes they don’t currently have women engineers, but they have women employed in administration and office roles. He hopes this will change in the future as more women engineers graduate.

Mr Griffiths added: “We’re a little bit different as a company because we tailor our machines to meet different needs of the sector. We make sure they are used friendly for the oil gas and aerospace sectors as this can lead to productive future relationships.

“We lead by new applications rather than producing a catalogue of machine tools we are applications drive and provide solutions this way.”

The machine tool manufacturer is also relaunching the original oil tool grinder, a machine in great demand and exported throughout the world.

First developed a decade ago, the machines are electronic universal grinders or multi-wheel six axis machines.

They are tailor-made to meet the specific needs of the oil industry and repair shops that carry out grinding and regrinding work.

All are designed, manufacture, commissioned and tested at their facilities in Keighley and Halifax.

They are exported to China, America and the Middle East to meet an ever increasing demand from industry.

The company said turnover is commercially sensitive, but it is expanding. The parent company MTTG has grown as a group from over a couple of million pounds last year to £5m this year, so times are clearly good for the heritage brand.