Long-established metals, alloys and metal powders supplier William Rowland heads the list of newcomers to this year’s Top 50 Manufacturers ranking.
The company, founded 181 years ago in Sheffield as an ironmongers, now supplies metals ranging from aluminium to zinc, ferro and nickel alloys to rare earth metals and germanium to pewter.
Customers include the aerospace, defence, authomotive, marine, construction, food processing and petrochemicals industries.
Also gaining a place for the first time is DavyMarkham, the Prince of Wales Road-based heavy engineer which has been supplying steel and engineering firms around the world with major plant and machinery since the 1830s and includes major international mining companies among its customers.
DavyMarkham has a series of prestigious achievements to its name, including the Thames Barrier flood defences, machines that cut the Channel Tunnel, the opening mechanism for the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead and the Terminal Five control tower at Heathrow.
After being saved from impending closure after 25 years of dis-investment, the firm has re-established its renowned apprentice training programme and was sold for an undisclosed sum last year to Hindustan Dorr Oliver (HDO), part of the $1 billion turnover, Hyderabad-based, Indian engineering and infrastructure group IVRCL group.
Darnall-based Geo Robson, which celebrated its centenary in 2006, supplies handling equipment for the world’s postal services, sugar refiners, cement manufacturers, airports, power plants and food manufacturers.
Recent years have seen the firm break into the demanding offshore market, using its specialist welding, hydraulic and electrical skills to build a conveyor and crane system to move drill pipes weighing up to four tonnes between storage areas and the drilling deck of oil rigs.
The company has also won a series of refurbishment contracts and contracts to install hi-tech security scanners for airport baggage handling systems.
A number of well-known names return to the Top 50, including W R Swann &Co, better known as surgical and specialist blade manufacturer Swann-Morton, Pressure Technologies and Geo Robson
Swann-Morton was founded in 1932 by Walter Swann, a revolutionary socialist who had come close to being sacked for his trade union activities, metallurgist Alfred Morton and Doris Fairweather, a supervisor who had worked with Swann in previous jobs. The company became the first to introduce a 40-hour working week and also introduced paid holidays, Christmas bonuses paid from profits in the 1930s, a shorter working week, a week’s holiday at Easter, when no other firm did, and kept well ahead of health and safety legislation. Walter Swann’s founding principles continued to be applied at the Hillsborough firm following his death in 1980 and the company’s acquisition in 2003 of competitors Rotax International, which laid claim to being able to trace its history back to 1601 – and the Jewel Blade company, founded in the 1920s.
Pressure Technologies is another company that has seen a resurgence in its fortunes following difficult times which saw the collapse of its parent group as a result of pension deficits and its sale to sale to a German company which sought to close the business.