The future looks bright for CN Metalworks, which is just weeks away from opening a state-of-the-art new facility.
The business was established in 1990 by Chris Nelson to manufacture fabricated metal products.
Chris’s son Craig said: “We’ve seen very strong growth over the last few years and we’d got to the point where we had that many machines and people in our premises that we couldn’t grow any more.
“We were in real danger of having to turn work away, something that no business wants to do. We could have stayed where we were and stagnated. But we had customers who were growing and we needed to grow with them.”
The only solution was to move to bigger premises.
Fortunately, a site was available to build a new factory just 20 yards from the firm’s existing site in Beezon Road Trading Estate, Kendal.
CN Metalworks embarked on a £890,000 construction and re-fit project, helped thanks to a £151,000 contribution Cumbria Growth Fund grant, through the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub.
Craig said: “It has been a bold step for us and we’ll be honest, we wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help from the Growth Hub, even if we’d gone cap-in-hand to the bank.
“The building we’re in now is just over 6,000sq ft in size, and the new building is 10,000sq ft but everything is one floor – we have two floors at present – and there no beams or stanchions to get in the way so it’s easier to operate.”
The original plans involved selling the current site to part-fund the new facility, but thanks to new customers and an increase in demand from existing clients, the intention now is to operate them both side by side.
Craig added: “The project has cost us more than we thought. With hindsight, we’d have applied for a bigger grant.”
CN Metalworks supplies customers across a broad spectrum of industries including construction and property developers, manufacturing, agriculture and dairy, and the national utilities, as well as providing ornamental gates and railings for domestic customers.
A particular niche market is the booming craft beer sector – customers include Cumbrian Legendary Ales, Tirril, Barngates, Dent and Yates breweries.
Craig said: “We started doing stainless steel pipework and then moved into making the brewing vessels themselves, and the full brewery kit.”
The move to new premises was expected to safeguard existing jobs, and create more, but with a healthy order book and the plan to retain the current premises, the original estimates have been upgraded.
The business has already recruited four staff, taking the workforce to 13, including an apprentice sheet metalworker. Craig added: “In our application for the Growth Fund grant, we said we anticipated creating six jobs, but It could be more than 10.”
Original article by Julian Whittle, Cumbria Growth Hub / Cumbria Chamber of Commerce