Ashgarth Engineering in Consett was launched less than two years ago and is already firmly establishing itself within the engineering industry.

In our latest It’s My Business feature, we chat to owners Niall Ash and Paul Westgarth.

Tell us more about why you decided to launch the business.

N. Both Paul and I had both worked in the engineering industry for over 10 years but were employed at different companies. In my previous role I had considered starting my own business, but the timing wasn’t right. Once Paul and I started working together in 2016 it was something we had discussed but it wasn’t a serious consideration until the company we were working for went into administration. Once that happened, we decided to go for it.

In July 2017 the business was formally registered, and a month later we purchased our first machine. This was followed by us securing our BSI accreditation at the start of 2018, which is obviously a massive thing for us and our ability to secure bigger contracts.

It’s been a great start for Ashgarth Engineering hasn’t it?

N. It has yes. We set ourselves targets for what we thought was realistic in year one, given we initially only had one machine. But looking at our turnover, we’ve certainly beaten those and have built up our client base with regular and project work. We also count clients beyond the North East as customers which is fantastic.

Now that we’ve got three machines, two of which have been made possible thanks to the help we’ve received from HSBC and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, our growth plans have been accelerated; we’re excited for what the future holds.

Tell us more about the support you’ve had to purchase the machines.

P. Our bank, HSBC, has been so supportive of our plans and their loan enabled us to secure the grant through the rural fund, as we needed to provide match funding and without the bank’s help we wouldn’t have been able to.

These machines have increased our capacity significantly and means that each of us can run a machine and there is no downtime, which also enables us to actively pursue contracts.

We’re also looking at adding a further machine in April which will add to our capacity even further.

You’ve also added to the team, haven’t you?

N. Yes, as we started to grow, we knew we needed support, so in June we brought in Ben, who has been such an asset to us and is really growing with the company.

We also have plans to recruit an apprentice this year so have started looking into our options as far as recruitment and support.

It might mean Paul and I won’t have to work such long hours too – that would be nice!

What about Brexit – are you foreseeing any impact on your business?

P. That’s the million dollar question. We don’t think it will have any impact on us as our customers are all UK based and they only export a small percentage outside the UK. However, it’s just a guess as I don’t really think anyone knows what’s going to happen with Brexit and what the impact will be. Time will tell.

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