Over £1m has been invested into a new forge that aims to help a Black Country manufacturer increase sales in automotive, petrochemical and rail.
Kimber Drop Forgings, which employs 27 people at its Gawne Lane site in Cradley Heath, unveiled its new capabilities today, with the management team signalling its intentions to reach £5m annual sales by the end of the year.
Backed by the Regional Growth Fund and Sandwell Council, the investment was celebrated at a high profile event featuring Mike Lyons (HS2 programme director), Rachel Eade (Business Growth Service) and a mix of customers and suppliers.
Delegates heard how the new facility will be fully air-conditioned, sound proofed and features a 70cwt hammer suite capable of producing forged parts up to 75kg – 25kg bigger than its previous best.
Kimber Drop Forgings will also have to employ five new people to make the most of the new capacity, with a number of these expected to be apprentices.
“You don’t hear about many new forges being built in the UK, so we’re delighted to put our sector on the map with this sizeable investment,” explained Larry Joyce, group chairman.
“Like many businesses we had a tough time during the recession of 2009 and had to make decisions that didn’t come easy. However, we managed to battle through it and have now got to the stage where turnover has hit £4m…a slight increase on what we were doing before the global dip.”
He went on to add: “To move us to the next level we needed to increase our capacity and our ability to supply customers with larger components. Rather than patch up existing plant, we decided to build a new forge…a rarity in the Black Country in recent years.”
The £1m investment is now complete and Kimber Drop Forgings is striving to attract new work to feed into the facility.
This will focus on securing additional contracts to manufacture automotive suspension and brake components, whilst enquiries to supply some of the major tier 1s in rail have started in earnest.
The firm has also contributed to the reshoring drive, taking the decision to bring oil and gas pipe clamps previously produced in Poland back to the UK. This is £100,000 of work and will directly employ two local people.