Movement into machine

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Special Steel Group’s move into machining with the acquisition of Chesterfield-based Hawk 14 years ago was a natural progression from its superalloys business.

Clients who had turned to Special Quality Alloys because it offered heat treatment and testing of the hi-tech metals the company supplied were keen to buy machined components, too.

Initially, SQA contracted out the work, but, as demand grew, decided it needed its own facility.

Hawk’s previous owner had been happy to run the business at around 70 per cent capacity, but its new owner soon had its machining arm working flat out, moving upmarket and starting to invest in equipment, only to find demand rapidly outstripped its capacity.

“We upped Hawk to 100 per cent, with all the machines running and suddenly we were up to having 30 per cent of the machining done outside the group again,” says group chief executive Simon Marshall.

Two small engineering companies were added to the fold and the business took on a new persona as Special Machined Products.

As demand continued to grow, Special Machined Products faced two related hurdles. Its own rapid growth meant production routes were not as direct as they might be and it lacked space. Both those hurdles should now be cleared thanks to the acquisition of the former A4e premises on Bessemer Road.

Following the creation of Special Machined Products, just one piece remained to complete the Special Steels Group jigsaw – the company needed a forge.

“The forging industry was diminishing in Sheffield and certain companies were buying up forges to get them off the market, so that they would get a monopoly,” says Alan Beardshaw.

“We looked at opening a forge of our own, but getting land with forging rights is difficult. We went to one company and asked to buy their equipment, but they said ‘No’ and broke it up instead.”

Eventually, the Group found a willing seller.

Alan says: “The business hadn’t had a penny spent on it in years. We’ve spent hundreds of thousands of pounds and plan to spend more. It’s had a complete rebuild.”