When compliments can be a secret affair

Precision method: Scott O'Reilly works on one of the lathes.          PICTURES: Glenn Ashley
Precision method: Scott O'Reilly works on one of the lathes. PICTURES: Glenn Ashley
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So pleased was the customer with a special piece of kit that Sheffield-based Hadee had designed and built for him that he an employees grind away all signs of Hadee’s name on its side, to prevent the competitor knowing the best place to go to get similar equipment made.

“He rang and told us he’d ground the name off because he didn’t want them to know we had made it. It was a backhanded compliment, I suppose,” says Hadee’s managing director, Peter Lowe.

Holbrook-based Hadee’s capacity, manufacturing skills and problem-solving capabilities have resulted in the company gaining a reputation for developing prototypes and one-off solutions for a range of industries.

Fortunately, not everyone is so reluctant to let others know of Hadee’s abilities and the company gets a lot of work from home and abroad by recommendation.

“We tend to be bespoke engineers. We try to develop purpose-built equipment for people,” says Mr Lowe.

“We get involved with just about every industry from railways and cement to sugar, steel, coal, pharmaceuticals, wind and wave power. You name it, we get involved.

“We have been done lots of different ‘one offs.’ We’ve made prototypes for the wind and wave power industries, some subsea equipment, machines for putting installing tunnel segments. We were involved with the (London Underground) Jubilee Line and we have just done a job for Crosslink, making support equipment for sinking vertical shafts. We’ve got involved with some weird and wonderful things. We even made a machine for catching chickens.”

In the UK alone, around 20 million chickens are killed each year and, until Hadee was called in to help the designers of a humane machine for gathering up the chickens produce the prototype, every one had to be caught by hand.

“They wanted someone to take it from initial concept to a commercial product. It’s in the US now,” says Peter Lowe.

Hadee is probably one of only two companies in the city region capable of making fabrications weighing more than 20 tonnes.

“What makes us different it the facilities and the expertise we have got. We can make anything that they will allow us to move by road,” says Peter Lowe.

That includes giant lock gates for docks and waterways and wing jigs for the A380 Airbus weighing more than 200 tonnes.