Sunderland company set to double workforce as it moves premises

From left to right, Sunderland City Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman, and RO-BAL Steel founder Rob Balzi in the companys new premises at Hertburn Industrial Estate.
From left to right, Sunderland City Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman, and RO-BAL Steel founder Rob Balzi in the companys new premises at Hertburn Industrial Estate.
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A Sunderland-based company is set to double its workforce as it gets ready to move to bigger premises.

RO-BAL Steel Fabrication is set to move from the Philadelphia Complex, in Houghton, to Hertburn Industrial Estate, in Washington.

We’re delighted to see RO-BAL expand and I’m confident its success in Hertburn will play an important part in attracting more businesses to this well-located industrial estate

Coun Harry Trueman

The structural and architectural steel fabrication company currently employs 18 people, and will recruit up to eight new employees this year, with more to come in 2018.

RO-BAL has secured funding from the Department for Business’ BE Group ‘Let’s Grow Scheme’, along with further investment from current company directors.

That will allow the business to buy eight new gantry cranes, new state of the art Computer Numerical Control (CNC) and automated drilling line machines.

It has been advised and supported by Sunderland City Council’s business investment team from start-up to its latest expansion.

Coun Harry Trueman, deputy leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The success of RO-BAL and the way it has driven growth by combining design and manufacturing to bring more work into the city’s economy should be applauded.

“We’re delighted to see RO-BAL expand and I’m confident its success in Hertburn will play an important part in attracting more businesses to this well-located industrial estate.”

RO-BAL was set up by Rob Balzi 12 years ago, and he started as the company’s only employee.

Since then, the company has become UK-wide, designing and fabricating huge structures with architects and customers including Sir Robert McAlpine, Nissan, Tesco, the pharmaceutical sector, utility companies and local council authorities.

Mr Balzi said: “The move will make us more efficient and cost effective, enabling us to be more competitive and giving us the opportunity to take on bigger projects.

“We aim to double our turnover in the second year and increase our workforce by at least 50% in two to three years.

“The city council’s business investment team, in particular Neil Clasper, have been a real help to us since we started up at Stansfield Business centre 12 years ago and we always value their advice and support.

“There is a limited choice of premises of this size – it’s 40,000 sq ft – in this area and we wanted to stay in Sunderland to keep all our skilled and loyal employees.

“Our new building is perfect for us – we’re right next to the A1231, A19 and A1.

“We’ll be growing in the future and have bought the building to allow for further expansion.”