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16 March, 2006 - 09:11 By Staff Reporter

Industrial firm invests £1.3m in new factory

A Waveney company, celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, has its sights set on becoming an industry heavyweight through significant physical expansion.A Waveney company, celebrating its 20th anniversary this month, has its sights set on becoming an industry heavyweight through significant physical expansion.

Waveney Asphalt is investing £1.3m in a new manufacturing plant at its 5.5 acre site at Ellough, near Beccles, with finance provided by Lloyds TSB Corporate.

The bank is providing the asset finance for the construction of the new plant in addition to a term finance package for the further development of the site.

The new plant, which is due to be fully operational in the spring, has already created seven new jobs, with more on the way.

The company also hopes to boost its turnover, which currently stands at about £5m.

The surfacing specialist has built a solid reputation as an asphalt contractor, but has decided to move up the value chain by creating its own dedicated production capacity.

Managing director, David Castleton explained: “All the work we have carried out in the last twenty years has been what is called ‘lay only.’

“We have been purchasing bituminous products in from suppliers, many of whom are national companies and are also our competitors.

“We have therefore been very much at a disadvantage in terms of pricing and service flexibility.

“We felt that we could not continue to be in this situation whereby our competitors controlled the source and price of our main raw material, and we therefore decided to build our own manufacturing plant.”

The 5.5 acre site has been owned by the company for a number of years, and is part of a World War Two US Air Force base.

Waveney Asphalt’s strong reputation is evidenced by an impressive client list, which includes Associated British Ports, Scotia Helicopters, Norfolk County Council and Jackson Construction.

Among the largest contracts it has carried out recently are the A143 Ellingham bypass and the A11 Wymondham bypass.

A key facet of the company’s planned move into the ‘big league’ will be the construction of a suitable headquarters building.

Castleton said: “In addition to the asphalt plant currently under construction, we shall in due course be moving our head office to the site and will be constructing a Scandinavian-style log building to house our office facility.

“This will complement the aesthetics of the site with its mature oak trees and landscaped areas and will be in stark contrast to the traditional image of our industry of operating from rather dirty and unkempt facilities.

“The development has already attracted the interest of designers and architects who are keen to use this project in various displays and presentations to clients.”

The company started out with an initial workforce of five, operating second-hand equipment and laying footpaths and drives by hand.

The company now operates two full-time machine laying gangs and a further three hand laying gangs, in addition to the new positions created in its manufacturing plant.

Waveney now employs a total of 43 people across the company.

“It has required considerable investment to bring it from a greenfield site to a working asphalt production facility and we estimate an overall cost when completed of around £1.3m.

“We anticipate the plant being open for business in the early spring of this year,” Castleton said.

“Clearly we have had to recruit staff to operate the new facility and to date we have employed an additional seven staff members, but there will be further employment opportunities within the business as the customer base grows over the coming years.

“Our turnover has grown steadily over the last 20 years to around £5m and we anticipate that this will grow further over the coming years.”

Waveney has been a customer of Lloyds TSB Corp-orate since its inception.

Castleton said: “We have enjoyed a very good relationship with Lloyds over the 20 years that we have been in business. We have always found the bank to be flexible in its approach to our various requirements, and anxious to provide innovative solutions to our needs.”

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