Rackheath family firm Howarth Engineering eyes expansion and welcomes next generation

Howarth engineering firm at Rackheath. Left to right, Mark, Andrew and Will Randall.Picture: ANTONY

Howarth engineering firm at Rackheath. Left to right, Mark, Andrew and Will Randall.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Three months after brothers Andrew and Mark Randall bought their stepfather out of the family engineering business, the bottom fell out of the market and their customer base dried up.

Howarth engineering firm at Rackheath. Will Randall in the workshop.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Howarth engineering firm at Rackheath. Will Randall in the workshop.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

And according to older brother Andrew, it took dogged determination - 'knocking on doors and making phone calls' - to find new customers and build the business up again.

Now the dividends are beginning to show. The duo are planning a major expansion, buying a neighbouring unit for extra space, and have seen business grow by 23pc this year.

'It was a long road,' said Andrew, managing director of Rackheath-based Howarth Engineering. 'Now it is really starting to pay off.'

The firm, launched by stepfather Robert Howarth more than 40 years ago, sees the majority of sales come from subsea telecoms, motoring and astronomy components.


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The brothers count Lotus among their customers, who they provide with a range of motoring components.

And with turnover this year approaching £1m for the first time since they took the business on in 1999, focus has shifted to training.

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Andrew's 20-year-old son Will has joined the business as a mechanical engineering apprentice, and it is hoped he will step into a management role after completing a HNC.

Further apprentices have joined, and the firm's 15-strong workforce will increase to 19 or 20 within the next 12 months.

'Bringing younger people through is something I have consciously looked at,' said Andrew, 47, who joined the business straight from school in 1986.

'We have got the company on to a steady footing. We don't have a high turnover of staff and we're starting to bring the apprentices through, and we felt now was the right time to expand.

'We have got some skilled staff here and it's a case of using them to hand on skills to the younger generation.'

And company director Mark, who joined Howarth in 1990, hopes eventually his 12-year-old son will follow him into the business. 'I would love to see him and Will run it together,' he said.

Andrew added: 'We will get to the point in 10 to 15 years when Mark and myself will take a back seat and let the next generation run and own the business.'

The expansion project was supported by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership through the Growing Business Fund which awarded Howarth Engineering £38,500.

It will enable them to kit-out the new unit, and invest in a new Computer Numerical Control machine.

Are you planning to expand your business? Call Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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