With a new factory in place, turnover and profits up by nearly 300% in 6 years and a growing workforce, early 2019 has been an exciting time for Contracts Engineering, the Kent based business putting down a marker for UK manufacturing.
It’s been a story of rapid growth under the ownership of Troy and Catherine Barratt with Locate in Kent playing a key role in launching the company’s next chapter of success.
In 2012 Contracts Engineering was a small but established precision engineering business celebrating its 20th anniversary from its factory in Stadium Way, Sittingbourne.
It was the perfect fit for Troy and Catherine, who since returning to London from studying and working in New York had searched long and hard for the right company to achieve a long-held ambition.
“Troy and I moved back to the UK in 2010,” Catherine, recalls. “We had a specific desire to buy a business in manufacturing…and felt there was a fantastic opportunity for manufacturing to be re-shored to the UK.”
Since buying the company six years ago, the company – which specialises in steel and aluminium contract manufacturing and fabrication – has been transformed, with a customer base and projects that now extend around the globe.
“In the last year we’ve worked on projects including cladding buildings in Gibraltar; all around the UK, providing cladding into the Crossrail stations in London, we worked on industrial machinery that’s gone as far as New Zealand and we are shipping ventilation equipment to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in early 2019,” Troy, now Managing Director explains.
For both, Kent has been a significant factor to their success.
“Kent has really allowed us to triple the size of our business. From being a hub for manufacturing, it makes it very easy for us to get materials, recruit skilled staff to join the team, and grow our business,” Troy says.
“There’s a great workforce here so we’ve been able to employ talented people and continue our apprenticeship programme.
“Having the business in Kent, we absolutely wanted to be part of the community,” adds Catherine, who as Director oversees marketing strategy, a factor that’s proved instrumental to the company’s success.
“Our children are really happy here so from a professional decision, it’s been phenomenal and from a family perspective it’s been a fantastic move for us.”
In January 2019, the company completed its move to a new factory – a mile and half from its existing site – with plans in place for the latest advanced manufacturing technology and processes to further accelerate its growth; the perfect template for what UK manufacturing can achieve.
Locate in Kent helped to ensure the move went smoothly.
“Locate in Kent introduced us to a consultant who has years of experience in supporting companies moving factories,” Troy said.
“We were pretty desperate to find some help and some real guidance on how we could do that. Locate in Kent not only found us the consultant but through a small grant helped cover some of that cost.”
As for future ambitions, both Troy and Catherine remain focused on what has driven their success from the start.
“Our ambitions at the start,” Catherine states, “are still our ambitions today and it’s to reverse the trend in the outsourcing of manufacturing and to build a great engineering company.”