Redundancy becomes opportunity for Doncaster business success

Posted on 28 Jul 2015 by Callum Bentley

Losing your job is devastating but for three Doncaster men it has led to a new business success.

Karl Vernon, Mark Evans and Wilf Hobson were three of 98 people who faced losing their jobs at Doncaster manufacturing company Norking Aluminium Limited when it went into administration in May 2014.

Now 14 months on, they have completed their first year as directors and owners at Mettech Fabrications Ltd in Balby, after they invested redundancy money on crucial equipment and turned their business idea into a profitable reality.

The company, which now employs nine of the original Norking staff, manufactures press metal work, aluminium and steel bracketry for the construction industry from the ex-Norking site on the LKH Estate on Tickhill Road in Balby.

Mr Vernon, who was previously Norking’s purchasing manager, said: “I was one of the last people to be made redundant at Norking and had often thought about running my own business but never had the opportunity.  We all knew the sector inside out and saw there were still opportunities for business out there. For us, redundancy was an opportunity to change and it was the catalyst to set up our own company.

“We put an offer in for three pieces of machinery to the administrators Wilson Field and our redundancy money funded the acquisition and allowed us to buy the assets. We started with one staff member from Norking headed up by myself and Mark along with Wilf’s many years of expertise in the sector.

“As well as offering advice, Wilson Field also licensed us to occupy part of the Norking premises and our new venture Mettech Fabrications was started. We now have nine staff, and have steadily increased our   monthly turnover and run a profitable business. The figures have already far exceeded our three year business plan.

“The advice we had from Wilson Field was second to none. Now our business is constantly moving forward and we are using established contacts and picking up work from them and new clients. Whilst we don’t win every contract, comments from our customers assure us that we have never been beaten on quality.

Sheffield-based Wilson Field completed the administration of Norking Aluminium last year and sold three divisions of the original business to new management teams to initially create 14 new jobs.

Three new independent companies were formed – Mettech Fabrications; APCO, which produces signage systems; and FOGA, which supplies a Swedish based modular exhibition and display system. Mettech and FOGA continue to operate from the ex-Norking site.

Norking had suffered cash flow problems as a result of a slump in the construction industry which it supplied, despite a healthy order book.

Gareth Kinneavy, senior corporate case administrator at insolvency practitioners Wilson Field, was involved in the original administration and the sale of Norking’s divisions.

He said: “Our aim was to seek new owners to take on the viable elements of the business and their associated employment this has proved extremely successful for Mettech. The last year has been a tremendous success for the company and I wish them well for the future.

“This is a prime example of redundancy not always meaning the end of the road and often it is viewed as a new chapter by people – a chance to reassess their lives and business opportunities.”

Steve Swann, Business Growth Advisor at Doncaster Chamber said: “Karl has worked really hard as part of an experienced team of directors to achieve what he has achieved. A good working relationship with the Chamber, and knowing we were there if needed for advice on business plans and employment issues, has given Karl the confidence to face a very challenging opportunity. It has been, and still is, an absolute pleasure working with Karl.”