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THREE engineers have teamed up to use their combined 40-plus years in the industry to start up a manufacturing site from scratch in Northumberland.

Rapid (UK) Engineering Services, which will concentrate on precision engineering, is the brainchild of former workmates Neil Elwell, Michael Lawson and Kevin Lazenby.

The three worked together at North East firms Weymouth Northumbria and then at Stephenson Precision Components, with Mr Ewell, from North Shields, specialising in quality and systems, while Mr Lazenby from Blyth is a production engineer and Mr Lawson from Cramlington is a former works manager.

Mr Lazenby said: “We are covering all areas anyway and though we would like the control over our lives. We just wanted to have a go ourselves.”

The business started trading from West Sleekburn near Bedlington at the start of the month and has already won orders from oil and gas clients working off the North East coast of Scotland.

The initial orders are on a “week by week” basis but Mr Lazenby said there was a potentially large market for the specialisms offered by Rapid Engineering Services.

He said: “It’s not just oil and gas. We’re trying to get into renewables, that’s going to take off in the next few years with components for wind power.

“Oil and gas is always going to be there too. There are big developments happening in Brazil.”

The team has invested around £500,000 in equipment which is capable of making precision engineering components accurate to within micron tolerances. Mr Lawson said: “If you can draw it, we can make it.”

The three partners secured start-up funding from Lloyds Bank and a grant from Go Wansbeck to set up the business.

Mr Lazenby said: “We started thinking about it in January/February. The first thing was putting the business plan into Lloyds Bank – they liked it and wanted to back us straightaway.

“We found a unit and it was a case of getting power to the unit, because the machines use a lot of power. That’s when Go Wansbeck helped us with a grant.”

Initially running the business themselves, the team is aiming to employ staff once Rapid Engineering Services becomes more established.

“We would like to grow and grow,” said Mr Lazenby. “We would like to take on apprentices because that’s how we all started and we would like to give something back.”

Shirley Wilson from Go Wansbeck’s enterprise team helped put together Rapid Engineering Services’ business plan and assisted with cash forecasting.

Mr Lawson said: “Our plan in year one is to simply stabilise and grow the business. We will then be in a position to take on apprentices.

“The help we have received from Shirley has enabled us to concentrate on the things we are good at.”

Ms Wilson said: “The lads are assets to their business and their customers really appreciate the work they are doing to provide the very best in engineering.”