Sep 21 2022
18th September 2022 marked a special day for Unifabs as we reached 15 years of sheet metal manufactured products, delivering products across a wide range of market sectors.
The past 15 years have seen Unifabs expand from two employees supplying parts from one CNC machine in a rented space, to occupying over 52,000 square feet at the current owned sheet metal manufacturing site in Warwickshire. Unifabs has certainly seen a great deal of change over the years. We are incredibly proud of the businesses achievements and growth. This is something we wouldn’t have been able to do without the continued efforts of our employees and support from our customers.
Jason Austin, Chief Executive gave his thoughts on reaching this milestone:
“In business, we rarely take a moment to reflect and appreciate what we have achieved as we inevitably go from one challenge to the next. There is always another challenge on the horizon.
It’s difficult to describe what we have been through and achieved over these last 15 years. It feels like a lifetime ago in 2006 when we started the business with two employees and one machine.
By 2011 the business was failing, and I had to decide whether to let it go into administration or double down. I made the tough decision to buy the entirety of the shares and restructure the company with myself and Tom James at the helm. Although it has not been easy, we have never looked back.
A special thanks to Tom for how hard he has worked and what he has sacrificed ever since. With Tom becoming Managing Director in 2021, the company could not be in better hands.
I’m incredibly proud of how far we have come. None of this would have been possible if not for our outstanding employees past and present, our supply chain that has supported us through thick and thin and of course, our customers, many of which became close friends and put their faith in us with every order placed.
I want to thank everyone who has been part of our journey. We are as ambitious as ever and look forward to the future and its challenges.”
Here we take a brief look back at some of the key moments in our journey and look forward to the future of sheet metal product manufacturing at Unifabs.
2011 was a turning point in the history of Unifabs Ltd. The then management team parted ways and Jason Austin took full ownership. He had a clear vision to grow the business beyond the £1m turnover it had been achieving. The business moved to occupy its first unit on Haunchwood Park Drive with that same Amada CNC punch laser combination, along with a press brake and welding services.
At this point the decision was taken to become ISO9001 accredited. This signified a key milestone in the success of the business.
Implementing quality procedures has helped Unifabs to grow to where it is today. The accreditation allowed us to directly supply major OEMs and become first-tier suppliers to many manufacturers, initially in the automotive sector and in the years to follow a diverse range of global brands.
Quality improvements remain a priority at Unifabs today. We are always looking for opportunities to improve and challenge ourselves, ensuring procedures are followed and employees are working in a safe environment.
This chapter also saw the addition of industrial design to our portfolio of sheet metal manufacturing services. This allowed us to support our customers right from initial concept. We purchased our first SolidWorks licence back in 2011. We have since grown this to 10, with a strong team of eight in-house industrial design engineers.
2017, 2019 and 2020 were prominent years in terms of expansion in manufacturing space. Turnover generated from the original manufacturing unit had been maximised. The only way to continue this growth was to acquire additional workspace. Initially, 20,000 sq ft was added, followed in 2019 by further space dedicated to welding services. 2020 saw the largest investment in the plant with a £1.4 million purchase. This added an additional four units and increased manufacturing space by 23,000 sq ft. Unifabs now occupies over 52,000 sq ft.
The past three years have seen significant investment in manufacturing technologies allowing us to offer additional services.
In 2019 Powder Coating services were added through installation of a Gema system. This significant investment solidified our ambition to offer a complete end-to-end solution to the manufacturing sector. The powder coating plant is one of the most advanced in the country. With quick colour changes and 1500 mm/min speed we can quickly and consistently process high volumes of parts.
2019 also saw investment in a state-of-the-art robotic welding system. This expanded capacity and offered the capability to produce more consistent, repeatable welds on manufactured products.
A £1.75 million investment in manufacturing machinery last year added significant capability in panel bending and laser cutting. The addition of a Salvagnini P2lean for automated panel bending has unlocked potential design and commercial improvements for our customers. And the addition of another fibre laser has allowed for significant increase in laser cutting capacity and reduced lead times.
Unifabs success in sheet metal manufactured products has largely been achieved by developing a strong dedicated team and a clear strategy of reinvestment in the latest manufacturing technology. This coupled with excellent customer service has generated a number of partnerships with key customers as a contract manufacturer. And as a result the business achieved sustained growth in the past 10 years, reaching £12.5m turnover in 2021. Something we are proud of and would not have been possible without the continued efforts of our employees and support from customers over the years.
We will be marking the anniversary with a customer open day in October to celebrate the businesses achievements. This will include a full tour of the company’s manufacturing facilities including new equipment investments. The technical design department and the new academy area for apprentices will also feature.
Throughout the past 15 years our key objectives have remained: to offer a complete sheet metal contract fabrication service, a one-stop solution that delivers on all fronts. And by investing in new technologies, delivering value added services, and training and developing a strong team, our customers can have continued confidence that they are partnering with a sheet metal manufacturer that delivers on quality and on service.
Unifabs are passionate about reinvesting into the business. This will remain, not just in terms of the latest technology but in its people. This is why the Unifabs Academy is key in the strategy looking forward. Managing Director Tom James explained “by investing in the next generation we are ensuring the longevity of our company and helping to create the next generation of engineers. With our apprenticeship and graduate schemes, we have developed young people into industry professionals. This remains a key objective as we look to the future of the business. I am excited about what the business can achieve in the next five years and well beyond”.