A company making machined plastic and metal components is set to expand its 65-strong workforce following the opening of a new factory extension.
Skelmanthorpe-based Pennine Industrial Equipment has added 600sq metres of accommodation to its Commercial Road premises to take advantage of rising demand for premium conveyor chain, which the firm manufactures for the glass-making and bottling industries.
The move represents a £2m investment in building, machinery and new products for launch. The company is now on track to increase its workforce by 30% over the next five to 10 years.
Dewsbury MP Simon Reevell unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the new extension before invited guests who included Kirklees Mayor Clr Martyn Bolt; Clr John Cook, chairman of Denby Dale Parish Council; and Paul Radcliffe, of Lockwood-based Radcliffe Construction, which built the new facility.
Guests were welcomed by managing director Graham Hobbs, son of the firm’s founder, who recalled the company’s origins in Saddleworth and his own background, saying: “I am very proud as a Lancastrian to have achieved this in Yorkshire.”
Pennine Industrial Equipment was founded by Leonard Hobbs in 1973 but sought out new premises following his retirement in 1983.
Graham said “We went to Scotland, Devon and were offered a site in Warrington. Instead, we came here to a turn-of-the century factory that had been used for making rugs but had fallen into a poor condition. I had never heard of Skelmanthorpe, even though I went to Colne Valley High School.
“Now we are probably the biggest employer in the village – we’re only 15 minutes from the M1 but our employees can walk to work and we have taken on an apprentice every year since 1983.”
The company, which also employs a handful of people at a site in Birmingham, has two distinct product areas which serve both domestic and export markets.
It makes machined plastic components that prevent metal touching metal and contaminating foodstuffs on production lines for customers including Fox’s Biscuits at Batley and McVities in Halifax.
It also makes sprockets and chains for conveyors used in glass production and bottling plants.
In addition to the factory extension and new production equipment, the company is launching the 2 Pin Conveyor chain for transporting hot bottles and jars at speeds of over 500 containers per minute or 750,000 containers each day.
More than 60% of sales are exports to to some 60 countries, including China, Japan, India, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain, South Africa and Venezuela.
Customers include manufacturers of wine glasses, pint and half-pint beer glasses as well as pressed glass products, such as ashtrays.
Officially opening the new extension, Mr Reevell said: “When I first came here a few years ago, we talked about providing this facility and what it might be like one day. It was something we all hoped would happen – and now it has.”
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