Managers buy Sheffield engineering firm and celebrate Tower Bridge London contract - great photos!

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge
Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge
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A six-strong management team - including a 26-year-old - have completed a buyout of Sheffield structural engineering firm Ekspan.

The group - all of whom started on the shop floor at various companies, five as apprentices - put up their own money and got a mortgage to buy the 24-year-old Brightside firm.

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Founder Peter Dronfield, who lives in Thailand, approached them with the MBO offer and made them “swear on oath” to keep the company going, according to operations director Phillip Lawton.

He added: “We look at it as a long term adventure - it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for us all, including Spencer Goff who is just 26.

“We have run the business for a number of years now, but taking ownership has made it more exciting.

“Peter saw it as the best way to ensure he was happy with the succession.

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

“He wanted to keep the ethos of a company that is driven by engineering rather than finance.”

Ekspan is a structural bearings specialist which employs 43 and turns over £5m-£6m-a-year.

Business is booming thanks to high profile projects around the country including glass walkways on Tower Bridge in London, Mr Lawton added.

The firm also has a big contract at Abu Dhabi airport and has built two of the world’s biggest wind turbine test rigs, at a cost of £2.25m each.

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Mr Lawton said they had returned Ekspan’s the Blue Shed - formerly used as an arts and exhibition space - to engineering use and they were looking to recruit project engineers.

The deal ends ties with the Dronfield family. Ekspan was established by Peter Dronfield and son Michael in 1991.

Son Matthew joined in 1999 and rose to become chief executive before leaving in February this year.

All photos by Anup Dholakia.

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge

Ekspan's glass walkway at Tower Bridge