Market Drayton sawmill eyes boost from HS2 and motorway developments
A sawmill operator is set to expand its operation with another seven-figure investment as it prepares to capitalise on the mammoth HS2 rail project.
Hales Sawmills in Market Drayton moved to a new home in 2015, following a £5.5 million investment in new premises.
Now the company is adding to its scale again by spending £2.5 million on another building, and hopes to use the additional space to capitalise on spending in infrastructure, including the £56 billion construction of the HS2 rail line.
"With a lot of smart motorways being built, and with noise being a big problem, we are doing a lot more noise barriers," said managing director Julian Parton.
"That's helping us to grow our business, and to future proof ourselves ready for HS2.
"There is going to be noise barriers and fencing all the way along that railway line, and we have it all in our toolbox to be able to offer anything people want to reduce noise.
"We have taken major strides to put the infrastructure in place to be able to get to the next level.
Hales was founded in 1982, and remains in the founding family. Julian Parton's father Bill continues to work in the business aged 89, while his eldest son Lewis also works at the site.
About 10 years ago the company started to focus on highways fencing, as it saw high growth in that area, and while it still makes other products such as gates, garden products and landscaping, the renewed focus on Britain's infrastructure has paid off.
It is now anticipating turnover to head towards the £10 million mark, from its current point of just over £7 million.
It moved its headquarters to Western Way in Market Drayton in 2015 from its former home at nearby Hales, and the 21,000 sq ft new building on the site will see the whole operation relocated to what will ultimately be a 10-acre site.
The move saw the company's staff grow from about 35 to 48, and the additional building could lead to another 10 to 12 jobs being created by the company.
Wellington-based construction company McPhillips started work at the Market Drayton sawmill last Monday, and the move is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The initial investment was backed by the Regional Growth Fund, and that in turn led to the next phase of expansion.
"The RGF made it possible for make the first investment," Mr Parton added. "That in turn made it possible to do this side.
"At the moment people from the two sites would prefer to work at Market Drayton because it is an up-to-date, purpose-built facility.
"We wouldn't decry the Hales site but it is an old estate saw mill where it was all smaller buildings, whereas here everything is purpose-built. We designed this site exactly how we wanted it."
He added: "Logistically it will be better putting everything on one site, and we are putting things in place to be able to take the business to the next level."
The company worked with accountants Mitten Clarke to develop the funding application, and was supported by NatWest.