SRS Blog > Workshop expansion

Published 4th November 2012

The business expanded considerably in 2011 - in terms of getting "busier" rather than employing more space or people, however against the general economic trend that has continued throughout 2012 which has, finally, meant more space (doubled in size over the last 12 months) and people (two more full time and I suspect we haven't finished yet...)

When I first moved back to Lincolnshire nearly ten years ago, the business moved into the old doctor's surgery and adjacent stables in the grounds of the house. This worked well for a year, before we rented a unit on the local industrial estate to ease congestion at home - this quickly became two units when the one next door came available. Given the size of the workforce (me and the dog), space wasn't too much of a problem.

All was going well when a much larger building close by on the estate came up for sale - we bought this in late 2005. Much too big to use in its entirety, so we refurbished and split it up into three units (it had been one large open plan series of rooms inside until then) - we worked in one and let the other two.

This arrangement was ok until a couple of years ago, by which time the workforce had increased from one to four and we were once again running out of room. 

I managed to fiddle some extra space by building an office with a small workshop above but it was becoming clear that we were going to need significantly more space before long. Thoughts turned to building on land we owned adjacent to the existing workshop, however by this time contract overhaul projects in the workshop combined with rapidly expanding Stafford production left little time for sorting out surveyors, architects and builders - so we simply rented another unit on the estate to use as a store for the big engines...

Mercifully, this was all sorted at a stroke earlier this year, when our tenant next door, feeling the chill of the recession, shut their doors and gave us back the key. In no time flat, we'd hatched plans to knock the partition wall down that had been put up in 2006 and move all the secondhand stock through next door.

 Idea was to use the existing unit as a dedicated machining/erecting shop, allowing us to build new and service old engines in a very much more efficient way. Sounds easy when you say it quickly, however things are never quite that simple...

When we first divided up the units, I didn't foresee at the time wanting to re-unite them any time soon. With a spectacular lack of foresight, I first installed a three phase switchboard on the new partition wall, then parked a three ton machining centre in front of it. So, come the time we need to remove the wall, it was now covered in a mass of armoured cable, boxes containing fierce voltage with an obstacle larger than our fork truck could lift in the way.

In the circumstance there was only one thing for me to do - take a day's holiday...

When I got back, Barry had organized skates, unwired the machining centre, moved it to its new position and got it back working with less than a morning's production lost (the VMC really is that busy these days, the spindle rarely stops!). Our ever-efficient electrician moved the switchboard and Dal the builder came round with his brother the next morning and had the wall down in a couple of hours.

Now, two months on, we've got the ladies installed in a posh new office next door, a proper phone system (we're still working on how to turn off the ghastly music on hold, my apologies if you've had to endure it), shiny new racking sufficient for an extra 80 pallets, customer loos (!) and a proper sign over the door.

All of which is a good thing and solves the immediate problem of space, so onto the next problem...