Wind power gives North East fabricator 300% sales boost

Posted on 24 Jul 2014 by Callum Bentley

The growth in the UK offshore wind market is helping a South Shields manufacturer triple its turnover in just twelve months.

Complete Fabrication Services (CFS), which has been supported by the GROW:OffshoreWind programme delivered by the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS), has seen sales rocket from £1.1m in mid 2013 to an anticipated £3.5m haul by the end of this year, creating an additional 10 jobs in the process.

The growth has been driven by the company’s ability to take on larger products and successfully securing full class welding approval, two enhancements to its service that resulted in a string of new contracts to supply cable carousels, cable reel and deck grillages.

It is now turning its attention to creating a centralised 10,000 sq ft factory, which will give it the necessary capacity to grow and take on even bigger fabrication structures.

At £1m, this is a major investment by CFS and one that is being made possible by a £300,000+ grant from GROW:OffshoreWind’s Flexible Enabling Funding.

“A significant amount of our work is bespoke and this suits companies supplying or working in the offshore wind sector,” explained Darren Carlisle, managing director.

“We took a long hard look at our business two years ago and decided to invest in people and in automation, blending the two together to provide a range of solutions that are cost effective, offer excellent quality and can be adapted to different market requirements.”

He continued: “Currently we are based over three units and need to bring it all together in one dedicated facility to increase our capacity and productivity. The good news is we’ve found the ideal location and are currently in legal discussions with view to making the move in September.”

Complete Fabrication Services, which currently employs 26 people, has received extensive support from MAS, receiving strategic and financial assistance on managing growth and improving processes.

The latest help has seen manufacturing advisors Alan Whittaker and Chris Hylton work with the management team on preparing an application for Flexible Enabling Funding from the GROW:OffshoreWind programme.

This work included preparing the submission to demonstrate justification for expansion, business benefits and how the money will be spent.

In addition to this, supporting information in the form of an updated and segmented business plan – showing projected growth in the offshore renewables sector – was submitted.

“The £300,000 grant is going to be absolutely critical for us and is speeding up the relocation by at least six months…if not longer, “ continued Darren, who bought the business nine years ago as a one-man operation.

He continued: “We’ll need to spend £1m to make the move and then ensure new machinery is installed and the factory layout is fit for purpose, offering us the most efficient production lines.

“When we are in the new place we should be able to take care of anything from a small £50 bracket to projects such as the £450,000 order for frames that host remote operated vehicles for checking pipelines and underwater systems.”

MAS’ Alan Whittaker is heading up the GROW:OffshoreWind offer in the North East.

“The growth in opportunities to supply into the offshore renewables sector has transformed the fortunes of Complete Fabrication Services and, encouragingly, Darren and his team are seizing the opportunity with both hands.

“They’ve recognised where the potential is and what they need to do to get there and I’m delighted we’ve been able to secure funding to make the relocation possible. At over £300,000 this is one of the biggest grants given out so far by GROW.

“We’ll be continuing to work with the firm on other projects, which will assist it to make continued business improvements to be more competitive and further impact the offshore renewables sector.”

Complete Fabrication Services supply in excess of 50% of its current turnover into customers involved in offshore renewables, with its other clients operating in automotive, food and beverage, petrochemical and pharma.

If the business plan is realised, the company is expecting to hit £5m sales by 2016 and will be employing nearly 50 people in South Shields.