An engineering boss who rescued his old employer from closure has saved the company’s order book by moving outsourced work in-house.
Former workshop manager Steve Robertson whio had spent nearly 30 years at Newcastle-based Chieftain Fabrications, stepped in as the new managing director to save the firm from dissolution in 2017.
But this year the Covid-19 pandemic threatened to hit the revived company’s order books and lead to furloughing of staff and likely redundancies.
The company pinpointed that specialised work being outsourced was becoming more expensive, while lead times were getting longer due to the unavailability of suppliers.
Explained Robertson:"We decided to become more proactive and bought the right machinery so that we could do the specialist jobs ourselves. It also had the benefit of keeping our staff engaged in new skills and gainfully employed throughout the lockdown period."
The firm acquired several heavy engineering machines including a sheet metal bender that can take metal up to 12mm thick and 3.7 metres long. It claims its £12,000 investment was repaid within six months, with further contracts are in the pipeline due to the new assets purchased.
Additionally, the MD bought an industrial pressure testing gauge, permitting materials to be tested in house, and bought a milling machines and a second-hand lathe.
While the firm's turnover figures increased, its ability to tackle previously outsourced tasks jobs in-house enabled Chieftain to gain more control over work flow.
It also boosted staff morale because employees were trained in valuable new working skills, said Robertson.
"Training is really important to us, we hold a number of ISO standards and have heavily invested in quality, procedures and technical skills including working to standards laid down by UK and international welding governing bodies," said Robertson (pictured, right) .
It also provided a lucky break for one apprenticewho lost his job when his previous employer has been forced to shut before he has completed his third year of training.
Ryan Anderson from Middlesbrough now makes the 80-mile round trip each day to work for Cheiftain after Robertson learned of his situation from a client and called him in for interview.
"I'm really grateful to Steve for taking me under his wing. It's a long journey to work but I'm learning so much and hope to make a career for myself in the engineering sector," said Anderson.