An East Durham manufacturing company is hoping its relocation to bigger premises will open new doors to growth.
Central Doorset Manufacturing has relocated from Seaham Grange Industrial Estate to the former Dewhirst building on the North West Industrial Estate in Peterlee.
The move into the 25,000 sq ft building – five times the size of the Seaham building it previously occupied - has been supported with investment from the County Durham Growth Fund and will enable the company to increase production capacity to eventually make 400 door sets every week.
Martyn Sandison, who set up Central Doorset Manufacturing in 2018 with business partner Scott McIlvaney, said: “When we launched the business, we set ourselves what we thought were realistic targets, however in year one we were manufacturing four times as many doorsets as we expected.
“At the same time, the company I previously worked for went bust, so many of their customers were coming to us for their products.
“It meant that very quickly, we had surpassed the production outputs we had initially thought would be achieved in year three, and equally quickly outgrew our premises.”
Martyn and Scott began looking for alternative locations around the region, and while they initially considered a move out of County Durham to Washington, the rates for property in this area were too great.
So, they began looking closer to home and identified the empty building at Mill Hill, which was once a hub for clothing manufacturing when it was occupied by Dewhirst, and latterly the home of Impressions Retail, as the perfect facility to house operations.
A subsequent conversation with Business Durham and the County Durham Growth Fund team proved fruitful and an application to the pot was successful, securing a grant award of over £70,000 to support the move.
As the lease at Seaham Grange Industrial Estate was coming to an end, Central Doorset Manufacturing fast-tracked the move to Peterlee, and although the country was in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, the company saw this as an opportunity to make much quicker progress.
Martyn added: “There were short periods when we had to furlough staff, however manufacturing continued throughout the pandemic and by the end of the year, we were pretty much on track for where we had planned to be.
“We had originally planned to move in the spring, however due to coronavirus circumstances and the fact several of our employees tested positive for the virus, we decided to bring it forward and actually moved into the building in February.
“We had to put a lot of hard work in to ready the building, including installing new LED lights, knocking down offices and rebuilding them and investing in new equipment to support the upscale in production. We also have plans to create a showroom for customers, which we hope will be completed in the next couple of months.
“This facility gives us the opportunity to grow, which we could never have done in our former premises.
“Since the Grenfell disaster, our industry is booming. Thanks to our strong supply chain, we are securing big contracts with construction companies that are leading on rebuilding and redesign, and in this new facility, we can actively target the larger contracts which previously would have been unrealistic.
“We currently employ 12 people and are also interviewing for a further two people to join our business. We expect to recruit further before the end of the year too as we roll out increased production, with growth supported by our sales office in Scotland which Scott manages.”
Central Doorset Manufacturing makes timber fire rated doorsets, internal doorsets and security doorsets for the health and education sectors, the MOD and HMP, as well as care homes, residential properties, and hospitals.
It is currently producing between 250 – 300 doorsets on a one-shift pattern each week, with plans to increase that to 400 sets per week by the end of 2021.
The County Durham Growth Fund, which has recently been boosted with a further £4m to continue to support businesses in the area, is jointly managed by Business Durham and UMi with funding through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). All successful grants applications are appraised by UNW LLP, an independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisers.
Sarah Slaven, Managing Director at Business Durham said: “The County Durham Growth Fund was established to support growth and job creation in this area and Central Doorset Manufacturing is the perfect example of why it’s so vital.
“The company had considered relocating elsewhere in the North East but thanks to the programme, decided to stay in County Durham, relocating to a larger facility just down the road from its original location, bringing with the move substantial investment and the ongoing recruitment of personnel to support its ambitious plans for growth.”
Simon Allen, Investment Centre Director at UMi, said: “Because of the investment we were able to offer, Central Doorset Manufacturing will remain in County Durham, with real potential to become one of the area’s most successful companies.”
John Healey, Corporate Finance Partner at UNW LLP, said: “I am delighted that the fund has been able to support Martyn, Scott and the team and look forward to seeing the building continue to take shape over the coming months.”