More jobs in sharp move by RO-BAL Steel Fabrication
RO-BAL Steel Fabrication, a Sunderland-based structural and architectural steel fabrication company, plans to double both its workforce and its turnover following its imminent move to larger manufacturing premises.
The company, which was set up by Rob Balzi 12 years ago is already growing strongly, recruiting up to eight new employees this year, with more to come next year.
RO-BAL has secured funding from the Department for Business’ BE Group ‘Let’s Grow Scheme’, along with further investment from current company directors to purchase eight new gantry cranes, new state of the art CNC and automated drilling line machines. It has been advised and supported by Sunderland City Council’s business investment team from start-up to its latest expansion.
Cllr Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council said: “The success of RO-BAL and the way it has driven growth by combining design and manufacturing to bring more work into the city’s economy should be applauded.
“We’re delighted to see RO-BAL expand and I’m confident its success in Hertburn will play an important part in attracting more businesses to this well-located industrial estate.”
Rob Balzi started off as RO-BAL’s only employee, fabricating bespoke balustrades, gates and railings. Since then RO-BAL has grown to become a UK-wide company designing and fabricating huge structures with architects and customers such as Galliford Try, Esh Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, Nissan, Tesco, Sainsbury, Lidl, the pharmaceutical sector, utility companies and local council authorities.
RO-BAL currently employs 18 people including three apprentices alongside local sub-contractors. RO-BAL are moving to bigger new premises at Hertburn Industrial Estate Washington. Rob Balzi said: “The move will make us more efficient and cost effective, enabling us to be more competitive and giving us the opportunity to take on bigger projects. We aim to double our turnover in the second year and increase our workforce by at least fifty per cent in two to three years.“
RO-BAL began by designing and manufacturing work for domestic customers, then grew by winning contracts with local councils across the North East. Private businesses of all sizes nationwide now make up the majority of RO-BAL’s order book.
RO-BAL bought its premises after taking advice from Sunderland City Council’s Business Investment team, who identified the property as an ideal match for RO-BAL’s expansion requirements.
Rob Balzi said: “Sunderland City Council’s Business Investment team, in particular Neil Clasper, have been a real help to us since we started up at Stansfield Business centre 12 years ago and we always value their advice and support.
“There is a limited choice of premises of this size – it’s 40,000 sq ft – in this area and we wanted to stay in Sunderland to keep all our skilled and loyal employees. Our new building is perfect for us - we’re right next to the A1231, A19 and A1. We’ll be growing in the future and have bought the building to allow for further expansion.”
The company, which is moving from the Philadelphia Complex, Houghton-le-Spring to Hertburn Industrial Estate is also Investing in major new equipment including new gantry crane systems, automated drill lines, plasma cutting CNC machines and design software.
RO-BAL is a family firm, with three generations working there. Rob’s father is workshop manager, his wife is a data analyst, his mother an administrator and his son a trainee CAD designer. The company is committed to training apprentices, and has taken on a new apprentice for each of the last four years.
Recent large contracts include providing steelwork structures, staircases and gantries for projects in Birmingham and Nottingham, a waste development site in Teesside and numerous structural and architectural projects in the North East region including Sunderland Aquatic Centre and Newcastle and Northumbria Universities.