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Precision subcontract Start-up Company invests in ten Doosan machines tools in double-quick time.

In a little over 2 years since the company was first established, Rapid (UK) Engineering Services Ltd, based in Bedlington, Northumberland, has been on the investment trail and owing to its rapid and phenomenal success has, to date, invested in 10 new Doosan machine tools supplied by Mills CNC.

The machines – 8 x Puma lathes and 2 x DNM vertical machining centres – installed at the company’s facility in West Sleekburn, are being used to manufacture complex, high-precision parts from solid or forgings, for a range of industry sectors, with oil and gas, in terms of revenue and income generation at this moment in time, being the most predominant.

Parts manufactured by Rapid for the oil and gas sector and also for a number of Yellow Goods and power generation customers are machined to tight tolerances and exacting surface finishes (Ra 0.4um), and batch sizes are typically in the low-to-medium range (one-offs through to hundred-off’s).

The company’s strong performance and growth since the outset has been achieved by manufacturing high quality, high accuracy parts, delivered on time at a cost-competitive price.

Getting started

Rapid (UK) was created by the 3 directors – Kevin Lazenby, Michael Lawson and Neil Ewell – in 2010.

All three had worked together previously for a number of years at various North East manufacturing companies prior to making the leap into setting up and running their own organisation, and each brought with them a range of different manufacturing, operational and commercial skills and expertise vital to the success of the new enterprise.

Says Michael Lawson, Works Manager:

‘Although we were confident that we had the requisite skills to make the venture work – as a new start-up business – we also needed to convince a number of organisations and agencies who we were looking to approach for help and assistance, that we were serious and that we were in it for the long haul.’

Embarking on such a journey at the best of times isn’t easy but attempting to do it just after the economic downturn of 2008/09 with access to credit for small businesses (let alone start-up companies) being particularly difficult to obtain, looked like a real mountain to climb.

Comments Kevin Lazenby, Production Manager:

‘It looked daunting but we were determined and we approached the task logically.

‘We put together a comprehensive business plan and presented it to a number of banks and organisations for funding assistance. We found that our local Lloyds Bank was the most receptive and supportive, and they’ve been on board with us ever since.

‘One of our first ports of call was also to Mills CNC. We knew Mills through previous experience and liked the Doosan machines they supplied and supported.

‘As well as helping to identify the specific machines we were initially looking to purchase Mills, through their independent finance operation (Mills CNC Finance), also worked with us on the machine tool financing side of things…approaching different lenders on our behalf…and putting together a finance package for us that was flexible and competitive.’


Success breeds success

In August 2010 four new Doosan machines were installed at the company’s facility.

Remembers Neil Ewell, Quality Manager :

‘The first job we did was machining a small batch of plastic components. Although the total order value was only £250.00…it was a start, and from that point things have really taken off for us.’

The company’s original business plan forecasted modest but steady growth in the first 5 years of operation. But, such has been the demand for Rapid (UK)’s manufacturing services and solutions that the business plan has been revised upwards to take account of the company’s accelerated growth and start-up loans, such as the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) from Lloyds intended to help Rapid (UK)’s cash flow and operational costs, have been paid off in full in just 12 months.

Such success, combined with the directors’ prudent management approach, has seen the company invest in a further six new Doosan machines (4 x machines installed 2011 and 2 x machines in 2012), and take on additional staff to operate them.

With such formidable turning and milling capabilities and capacity at its disposal, it’s not surprising that Rapid (UK) has built a solid reputation within the oil and gas supply chain as a world-class manufacturing partner and is in a strong position to capitalise on the continued growth being experienced in this and other sectors.

Concludes Michael Lawson:

‘It’s been hard work but we’ve come a long way in a relatively short period of time. The decision we made collectively to approach Mills has proved to be a good one. The Doosan lathes and machining centres we have purchased are reliable, high-performance machines and are backed by Mills’ after-sales service and support – neither of which we can fault.

‘The support provided by Mills CNC Finance shouldn’t be overlooked either. Some machine tool suppliers we spoke to were reluctant to back an ambitious start-up company like ours – but Mills, especially through Ian Barber, Mills CNC Finance’s Manager, took the time to understand our business and offered proactive assistance whenever we needed it.’