How one Sunderland business is building for the future

RO-BAL has secured funding for the future.
RO-BAL has secured funding for the future.
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A Sunderland steel firm is building for the future.

Structural and architectural steel specialist RO-BAL Steel Fabrication plans to double both its workforce and its turnover after its imminent move to larger premises in the city.

We aim to double our turnover in the second year and increase our workforce by at least fifty per cent in two to three years.

Rob Balzi

The company, which was set up by Rob Balzi 12 years ago, is already growing strongly, recruiting up to eight new employees this year, with more to come next year.

RO-BAL has secured funding from the Department for Business’ BE Group ‘Let’s Grow Scheme’, along with further investment from current company directors to purchase eight new gantry cranes, new state of the art 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.

Rob Balzi set up RO-BAL on his own, fabricating bespoke balustrades, gates and railings.

Since then, the firm has grown to become a UK-wide company designing and fabricating huge structures with architects and customers such as Galliford Try, Esh Construction, Sir Robert McAlpine, Nissan, Tesco, Sainsbury, Lidl, the pharmaceutical sector, utility companies and local council authorities.

It currently employs 18 people, including three apprentices, alongside local sub-contractors.

Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman 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.”

The company is moving from Houghton’s Philadelphia Complex to Hertburn Industrial Estate and is also investing in major new equipment including new gantry crane systems, automated drill lines, plasma cutting CNC machines and design software.

“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 fifty per cent in two to three years,” said Rob.

“The Business Investment team, in particular Neil Clasper, have been a real help.”