Lincolnshire engineering firm Hooton invests £150,000 in new technology
A West Lindsey engineering firm is defying the recession by investing £150,000 in state-of-the-art technology.
Hooton has invested the six-figure sum in a 4m-long 200 tonne brake press and expanded its workforce by 30 per cent in 12 months.
And the company – on the town's Corringham Road industrial estate – believes it has far more to offer than a traditional engineering role.
Director Simon Barrett said: "It's a very prestige project for us that is a result of us growing.
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"A lot of work we do is old-fashioned engineering – cutting, welding and fabrication – but we're capable of more precision work now with our press and water-jet cutter.
"I think that technology is a bonus. You don't get an immediate return. But you just hope we'll be seen as company that's investing in tomorrow."
Hooton manufactures equipment used by Cadbury's to produce its chocolate eggs and stainless steel worktops for schools.
In the last year they have taken on seven staff raising the company's workforce to 26 when it was just five in 2001.
They are supporting the district council's campaign to take teenagers off the dole and into work and have just recruited an apprentice.
Mr Barrett praised West Lindsey District Council for encouraging businesses to recruit 50 young people through its Apprenticeships Work 4 You campaign.
"The industry has not trained anywhere near a sufficient number of people for the last 20 years," he said.
"So we've got this huge gap and that will continue unless you start investing in the youth of today.
"You do this from job experience, not from a textbook. And you've got to have that next level of growth and enthusiasm and you've got to invest now."
New Hooton apprentice Jake Marshall, 17, staked his claim for a job with a month-long work experience placement with the company. Now he is working towards an NVQ Level 3 in engineering fabrication.
"I've always had an interest in engineering," said Jake. "My dad's always in his garage working on cars – so I've grown up with machinery. I'm really enjoying it."
West Lindsey councillor Richard Doran visited the Hooton plant, which is in his ward.
"It's so refreshing to see a company fighting back against the doom and gloom we hear surrounding the economy," said Cllr Doran.
"And Hooton are taking positive action to really motivate staff and see positive results in recruitment, growth and sales.
"I am very impressed by Hooton UK's forward-thinking attitude.
"And I hope its success inspires more businesses to invest for their future. If this includes hiring an apprentice, that's all the better."
Visit www.west-lindsey.gov. uk/work4you