Hooton Engineering Ltd
About Hooton engineering
Based in Gainsborough, Hooton Engineering started out in life in the 1950s as a blacksmithing business supplying local land workers with steel tools and parts for agricultural machinery.
Not satisfied with simply supplying regular tooling, Ron Hooton, the original founder of the business, went on to invent the Hooton Bucket Elevator, a machine that picks up produce and drops it into containers, and the Cauliflower Floret Machine, a device that automatically cuts cauliflower into florets.
Both of these innovative machines made a huge impact on the agricultural sector, saving land workers both time and money.
Wind forward 60 years and Hooton Engineering now turns over £2 million, employs over 30 in its factory in Gainsborough and prides itself on being the go-to steel fabrication firm for subcontractors across the UK, offering a wide range of steel fabrication services across a diverse customer base; from agriculture through to pharmaceuticals.
One of the final steps in manufacturing steel components is the shaping and polishing; removing any rough or sharp edges before dispatch. Traditionally this has been done manually and therefore has been a highly labour intensive, timely and costly process.
As demand for fabricated steelwork has grown so has the need to find a more cost-effective way of finishing jobs, reducing both the amount of time spent on shaping & polishing as well as the amount of waste and rework.
With the need to maintain the highest quality standards Hooton Engineering felt they had no option but to automate the finishing process so as to remain both productive and competitive.
After carrying out research, company director Richard Marshall found that the best way to address the consistency issue was to buy a swaging machine and a rumbling machine.
The swaging machine bends metal sheets to precise angles to produce perfectly shaped component ready for polishing and the rumbling machine acts in a similar way to a washing machine with steel components being spun with ceramic pellets to leave a smooth and polished surface.
After explaining the impact that automation would have on future productivity and sales revenues to one of the Grants4Growth team they were encouraged to submit a grant application for funding towards the planned investment.
Within a few weeks their request for support had been approved and a Grant offer of £1000 towards the cost of the new machines had been made.
Since acquiring the new machinery, Hooton's have seen significant growth in turnover having secured additional orders ranging from £100,000 to £400,000 in value.
The introduction of the new finishing equipment means that Hooton Engineering is now able to meet the exacting standards set by certain new high value clients, such as Matcon a major manufacturer of pharmaceuticals and nutrition powders.
This opens up huge opportunities for added value fabrication work from sectors where strong profit margins can be achieved.
Last year Hooton Engineering took on two new apprentices and as part of its future growth plans are keen to continue teaching the younger generation through their apprentice program.
"Grants 4 Growth was just what we needed. They were quick and really responsive, helping us buy the equipment that we needed to grow whilst maintaining our quality."