Steel firm has Olympic surge

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Architectural metalwork manufacturer Zebra Steel Fabrications is looking forward to a bright future after winning a number of contracts in London as the capital gets ready to host the Olympics.

The Barnsley firm, founded eight years ago by husband and wife John and Katie Murphy and started out as Zebra Steel Solutions, originally focused on installation work.

Until a year ago, the firm was run from their home at Darton, but, as competitors folded due to the recession, the couple decided the way forward was to manufacture as well as install and Zebra Steel Fabrications was formed.

Since then, the firm has moved to the Carlton Industrial Estate, taken on two employees and six sub-contractors and has plans for further growth.

Katie Murphy says the company’s fortunes have taken off and the majority of new work is on schemes in London area.

Prestige contracts include making stainless steel handrails and fitting posts and glass in the atrium and coffee bar of a department store, built for John Lewis in the Westfield development, which claims to be the largest urban shopping centre in Europe and a gateway to the Olympic Park.

Katie said: “I think if we hadn’t taken the decision to diversify into manufacturing, we might have struggled to survive the recession, but now we’re handling very high-specification orders.

“The plan is to build on these relationships and expand further.

“Clients are pleased with our high quality standards of work, fair pricing and John’s hands-on approach to site installation.

“We’re in the process of patenting a manufacturing technique which will help us to be even more competitive.”

Zebra’s success has been underpinned by financial support and advice from Enterprising Barnsley, the organisation which brings together Barnsley Development Agency, Barnsley Business and Innovation Centre and the University of Huddersfield’s Barnsley Campus to back local companies.

“Free support from Enterprising Barnsley has made all the difference by allowing us to get the new brand up and running to a professional level very quickly. We can’t encourage other companies enough to use their services.”