Investment leads to new jobs and productivity boost for flue firm

A1 Flue Systems directors TJ Duncan-Moir and John Hamnett.
A1 Flue Systems directors TJ Duncan-Moir and John Hamnett.

A £250,000 investment by an award-winning firm in Ollerton has boosted productivity by 30 per cent over the last year, leading to the creation of eight jobs.

A1 Flue Systems spent the money on new machinery, key infrastructure upgrades to its factory and other improvements to its assembly line.

And the upshot is a boom time for the family-run company, which is the UK market leader in the design, manufacture and installation of commercial and industrial chimney, flue and exhaust systems. The new jobs have been created in its manufacturing, sales, estimating and installation departments.

“The results have been dramatic,” said director TJ Duncan-Noir. “We have been able to make more products in less time, which has been so important because this is a pivotal time for our business after seeing a huge uplift in projects since the Brexit vote.

“In the last half of 2016 alone, we saw a £1 million increase in orders, due in part to the price hikes forced upon our competitors that have to import their products from Europe. All of this enabled us to take on more staff across the different departments of our business and is giving us a stronger platform for more growth.”

TJ explained there was now a better flow of products throughout the various stages of manufacture within A1 Flue Systems’ 54,000 sq ft factory.

“We work on more than 5,000 projects each year, which can range from a simple replacement flue for a school boiler in Devon to a complete flue and chimney system for a skyscraper in Dubai. An analysis of our manufacturing processes meant we were able to identify ways to increase our productivity.

“For example, our multi-skilled employees had their own work areas, producing a range of products, often to demand. However, we have now moved to a layout of dedicated manufacturing zones for specific products, which has alleviated a lot of bottlenecks we used to get.”

Fellow director John Hamnett said the new zones were enabling the firm to plan production more efficiently and to meet critical deadlines.

A1 says it is proud of the fact that it has not borrowed money to fund the improvements. Instead profits have been ploughed back into the business.