A specialist industrial and commercial gearbox engineering company, which has been trading for nearly a century, is targeting a new phase of growth after securing £100,000 in loan funding from Finance For Enterprise and NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance, which is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF).
Huddersfield-based Highfield Gears specialises in re-engineering and repairing a wide range of industrial gearboxes, which are used in the aerospace, manufacturing and traditional heavy industries. With an impressive range of clients spanning the globe, which includes Tata Steel, Heineken and Dulux, company owner Jack Walker, who took over the helm of the business in 2018, decided to draw on his own engineering background to target new market sectors.
Recognising that the company’s 16,500 sq. ft. facility, equipped with two substantial 10 tonne cranes and the capacity to lift 20 tonnes, was capable of manufacturing and repairing large, complex machinery and supported by a 16 strong team of experienced and knowledgeable engineers, Jack began exploring opportunities for the business within the oil, gas and aerospace sectors. With a number of new orders lined up, Jack recognised additional machinery would be needed, helping the business to produce the specialist parts more easily. Despite benefitting from a vastly experienced and knowledgeable workforce, Jack also recognised the importance of investing in technology, helping to reduce production times through automating part of the CNC machining process.
After approaching Finance For Enterprise for help, Highfield Gears successfully secured a £100,000 loan, which was jointly funded from Finance For Enterprise and NPIF – BEF & FFE Microfinance. With funds in place, Highfield Gears invested in a horizontal boring CNC machine, increasing capacity and creating three new jobs within the business and ensuring the skills and knowledge that the company has been built can be passed on to the next generation of engineers.
Since drawing the funds, Highfield Gears has secured a number of new contracts and is setting its sights on further growth in the future.
Jack Walker, Managing Director, Highfield Gears said:
“Highfield Gears gave me my first taste of working life as an engineer when I was just 17 years old. It inspired me to pursue a career in the industry, but I recognised that a business doesn’t just succeed because it has been around a long time, it must innovate and evolve.
“To achieve this, I wanted to tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise held within the business, but crucially, adopt new ways of working, allowing the company to embrace new opportunities and explore new markets for our services. I realised that funding would be critical to helping us unlock the growth potential within the business, so I decided to apply to Finance For Enterprise for help.
“Jeremy came out to see me; I explained my future plans and he was able to provide the vital funds we needed at a critical time for the company. Securing the funding from NPIF and Finance For Enterprise means that we will not only be able to invest in new equipment, helping the company to operate more effectively, but it will also help us retain the skills that the company has been built on, creating new opportunities for the next generation of engineers. The help we received gave us the confidence to explore new opportunities, and this is already reaping dividends, with a number of significant new contracts already secured.”
Jeremy Meadowcroft, Business Lending Manager, Finance For Enterprise, said:
“Highfield Gears is a business that has been operating in Huddersfield for nearly a century. When Jack took over the company in 2018, he recognised that whilst it had an experienced and knowledgeable team of engineers who could solve incredibly complex problems, it was vital that the company adapted to a changing marketplace.
“Many lending decisions taken by mainstream lenders are typically judged upon credit history, accounts and the past performance of the business. Having successfully navigated the business through a particularly challenging period during the company’s long history, I spent time with Jack discussing his plans and it was clear that he not only passionate about helping to preserve the future of a longstanding business, but that he wanted to lay down clear foundations to grow and develop the company.
“Since drawing down the investment, Jack has seen his workforce grow and diversify and he is currently embracing new forms of technology into the business, helping the company to successfully secure new market opportunities. I’m confident that under Jack’s leadership, Highfield Gears has a very bright future ahead of it.”
Cat Smith, Senior Manager, British Business Bank, said:
“The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund continues to provide vital funding to Northern businesses across the region. We are pleased to continue this support, and are proud to work with Finance For Enterprise and our other appointed fund managers to make a real impact on business communities, creating jobs and strengthening regional economies to unlock the North’s potential.”
Finance For Enterprise provides a range of tailored loans up to £250,000, aimed at supporting SMEs throughout Yorkshire and the North Midlands. The company is a delivery partner for the British Business Bank-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and acts as fund manager for the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund and Start Up Loans.
The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.