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Building firm preparing for industry upturn

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A SUNDERLAND company is laying down the foundations to capitalise on returning confidence in the housing market.

The Fencehouse Truss Company is investing £100,000 in new equipment, adding a 40-tonne press and creating new jobs to operate it.

The investment comes just 18 months after the firm, which builds roof trusses, spent £70,000 on a smaller press and will substantially increase its capacity.

The Houghton firm was set up in a purpose-built factory five years ago and has grown despite being established during one of the most difficult periods the construction industry has faced.

Steve Harris, who runs the company with co-directors Steven Brown and Steve Cauwood, said: “We haven’t known anything different to the recession. We built the factory from scratch and set up as the recession had started.

“But from our point of view, this is the best start of the year we’ve ever had. We started with three people and now we are up to 15. Despite the recession we have managed to grow steadily.

“There has been a significant increase in work. There’s a lot more confidence from housebuilders to build new schemes.

“We have taken on two new staff, with one eye on the arrival of the new press, so we can get them trained in the way we do things. We’ll probably take on another two or three people.”

Fencehouse Truss has manufactured roof trusses for house builders including Taylor Wimpey as well as working on major projects for Manchester and Birmingham Airports and hospice sites for Marie Curie Cancer Care. It is currently working on a large nursing home for Gentoo at Doxford Park.

The company is now targeting a £2million turnover for this year, which would see sales increase by around 25 per cent.

The new press, due to arrive in April, pushes together the roof trusses – the wooden and metal framework that supports a building’s roof. Fencehouse Truss has received advice and support from Sunderland City Council since its earliest days.

“It was initially a pipe dream,” said Steve. “We sat down with Neil Clasper from the city council about seven years ago and it took about two years from then to set up the factory.

“He was very helpful and pointed us in the right direction and we have developed a long standing relationship.

“I would advise businesses to consider Sunderland and get help from the council. The team has been very, very helpful to us.”

Deputy council leader Coun Harry Trueman said: “The Fencehouse Truss Company is a great example of a business that had a good idea and went for it, despite the huge problems the construction industry faced in the recession.

“The company is now growing as the economy improves and is creating jobs, which benefits our economy here in Sunderland and further afield.

“We are delighted to have been able to help in that success story. The City Council can support businesses considering Sunderland as a base, or those growing firms that are already located in the city.”

 

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