Versatility holds key to success as skills are passed on

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Traditional skills, combined with innovation, and versatility, enhanced by having the ability to control manufacturing from start to finish are key elements of the success of Holbrook-based Carrs Silver.

The company knows that it will always need people with the skills to make quality cutlery by hand and has been investing in ensuring those skills are passed on.

“We are setting up our own training school and apprenticeship scheme,” says Richard Carr.

“At the moment we have 10 young people, aged 16 to 18, in the key areas of the company and the idea is to keep growing that.

“The skills they are learning are now are not skills that can be learnt over night and we have got some experienced guys training them, which has affected production, but these young people are starting to contribute and there are more trainees coming on.

“We have brought the average age of the management team down to 37 and we would like to bring the average age of the factory down from 55.”

At the same time the 180 employee firm is looking at operations it might automate, such as using robots to solder knife handles together.

Having embraced Computer Aided Design, the company is likely to introduce 3D printing technology so that it can produce prototypes that customers can touch and feel.

Carrs tries to be as self sufficient as possible and estimates that around about 95 per cent of the products in its brochure are made at its Sheffield plant, where it even hosts an independent outpost of Sheffield Assay Office, which assays and marks its products.

The company produces its own silver using two continuous casters, one of which was built in house, has its own rolling mills, annealing furnaces and presses, including a purpose-built hydraulic press capable of producing the biggest trays.

Carrs makes its own tooling, manufactures cutlery canteens, cabinets and tables from scratch and even cuts the wood and glass for its picture frames.