Two bespoke joinery and furniture companies in Coventry which design and manufacture high-quality products have invested nearly £500,000 in cutting-edge technology, its factory and renovations.
Summers Joinery and RHA Production have expanded into its neighbouring premises in Barlow Road on the Aldermans Green Industrial Estate to cope with a £1 million order book which has included working with customers in Dubai, Athens, China and Ibiza.
The two businesses, along with its sister company 5 Axis Routing, are headed by managing director Lee Summers who has received help from the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub in receiving a grant towards buying a 5 Axis Holzher machine and installing an extraction system which has totalled around £265,000.
Over £92,000 of funding was secured from both the Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme and Coventry & Warwickshire Business Support Programme towards the 5-axis machine, extraction system, LED lighting and software needed to run the German machine. Both projects are part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which are being delivered by Coventry City Council.
A further £235,000 was spent refurbishing the next-door foundry business Coventry Castings in September 2018 and carrying out extensive refurbishments.
Lee said installing the new machine had reaped benefits during the first national lockdown and was helping them to bid for work in different markets.
“We are one of only a few companies in the UK to have this cutting-edge CNC and software combined technology and we are already having enquiries for work we couldn’t previously have taken on such as prototypes for yachts and development work at other companies,” he said.
“It is exciting and the work we can do is not linked to one sector so we were able to send some of our workforce on training programmes before lockdown to use the software to its full capacity.
“We used the machine on the internal fit-out of 88 bedrooms, refurbishing the front reception desk, revamping the Lord Iliffe suite, and creating the bars and seating in the reception area at The Telegraph Hotel which was a really exciting project.
“We are also one of the few companies in the UK to have installed the American computer controlled Ecogate system which monitors when each machine requires extraction and controls it from a dedicated computer.
“The Growth Hub was brilliant in helping us with the form filling because we had never applied for grants before. They took the time to understand our businesses and suggested grants we could apply for that we didn’t know existed so I would encourage other companies to get in touch with them.”
The three businesses currently employ 25 staff over the 20,000 sq ft premises and is extending its shift system to meet demand.
Lee, whose father Lol started Summers Joinery in 1973, said the next stage is to replace the roof to make it more environmentally friendly.
He added: “The roof on the new premises is a single plastic roof so all the heat is flying straight out.
“We invested in a bio-mass system five years ago so we re-use all our wood waste on site rather than having to take it to landfill.”
Summers Joinery has secured a further £28,600 in Phase 2 of the Coventry & Warwickshire Green Business Programme to install a further wood waste heater as well as roof insulation to reduce their carbon footprint.
Justine Chadwick, account manager at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the quality of the work produced by Summers Joinery, RHA Production and 5 Axis Routing was reflected in their need to expand.
“Lee and his team are always looking at ways to innovate and buying the new 5 Axis machine is a game-changer for future orders,” she said.
“At the Growth Hub we have provided help to make it easier for Lee to access grants to help the businesses to grow which has led to the creation of five new jobs since the machine was installed and has improved the working environment.
“It is great to see businesses showing resilience, taking on vast and varied work all over the UK and further afield.”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “It’s good to see a local company doing so well by investing in specialist machinery and its workforce including taking on more staff. This is exactly what our grant funding projects are all about.
“It’s also really good news that so many local companies and craftspeople, including Summers Joinery, are working on The Telegraph Hotel.”
Caption: From the left, Justine Chadwick (CWLEP Growth Hub) with Molly Summers and Lee Summers from Summers Joinery, RHA Production and 5 Axis Routing