For hundreds of South West businesses, the HPC project presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to transform their companies forever.
This is perfectly demonstrated by Somerton-based steel fabricators Pitney Fabrication which, in the last five years, has positioned itself to be in just the right place to reap the rewards that come from being a supplier to Europe’s largest development.
This is remarkable considering just 24 months ago the land where Pitney’s brand new, 40,000 sq ft industrial unit stands was just an empty, muddy field with a “for sale” sign.
“Following a period of growth we’d simply outgrown our old premises,” explains Tim Walrond, director.
“At the same time, we knew that, in order to present ourselves as a genuine supplier to the Tier 1 firms at Hinkley Point C, we had to up our game and really show the project and the rest of the construction sector what we are capable of.”
The family-run ‘Pitney Fabrication’ (Tim’s fellow directors are his brothers Martin and Andrew) was founded in 1992. Following a difficult time in the early ‘00s, when the whole construction sector experienced its own mini-recession, the company has since gone from strength to strength, supplying increasing quantities of steel for use in commercial and industrial developments, with a work base encompassing most of the regions of southern England.
When the HPC project was announced almost a decade ago, the Pitney Fabrication team, recognised it as an amazing opportunity for local businesses to plug into the site’s supply chain and help the development as the nuclear power station was constructed.
“We knew that in order to impress the Tier 1 contractors we had to present ourselves better,” continues Tim. “So, we started growing our team and expanding the services we offer, going from half a dozen people to our current team of over 56 members of staff.”
He adds: “As well as making our premises fit for purpose to supply large projects such as HPC, we are also continuing to encourage and support the upskilling of our team, with the help of funding from European social funding.”
“This last 24 months or so has been about transforming our business to ensure we can react to the opportunities presented to us from our client base.”
So far Pitney Fabrication has completed one contract associated with HPC – installing the steelworks for the site’s caterers, Somerset Larder.
“Following the move to our new site we’re now in the process of quoting for more contracts at HPC and with our new facilities and expanded team, we are also looking at supplying other large-scale national projects, such as HS2,” explains Tim.
He adds: “None of this happened overnight, it’s been a process over six years or so to get where we are now, and all in all it’s a very exciting time for everyone connected to Pitney Fabrication.”