Steel firm Katmex thriving again after weathering Covid storm

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

A Tees firm producing multi-processed steel components is staying one step ahead on the roadmap after successfully navigating its way through the Covid pandemic.

The business came through the global financial collapse of 2008-09, and found itself having to deal with another worldwide crisis when lockdown came into force last spring.

But with plans in place for a return to normal sooner rather than later, Katmex has weathered the storm well and a recruitment drive highlights the fact the business is once again booming.

Katmex finance and commercial director Lee Cranston said: “It has been a tough 12 months for everyone, but volumes have really picked up for us since October, and we’re at the point now where, in all honesty, we did not envisage ourselves being until later this year.

“We stopped production at both our sites in April last year because our customers had ceased their manufacturing.

“Prior to and during our closure we stayed up-to-date with the guidelines and regulations published by the government. Our number one priority during this time was keeping our employees safe and informed of the situation, which was changing all the time.

“A reduced workforce returned to work in May, and we gradually increased numbers in line with our customers commencing manufacturing operations once again. A return to work induction as well as further social distancing measures, such as staggered shift start times and breaks, were introduced to ensure our workplace was Covid secure.

“While dealing with the situation we were faced with, as a management team we also wanted to focus on the future of the business after coronavirus, and with that came a restructure of our organisation.”

The main operational base for the company is at a 20,000 sq ft HQ in Norton with a capacity to process 2,000 tonnes of steel each month, with a further 500-tonne capacity at an additional site in Seaham, County Durham.

More than £3.5m has been invested in recent years in cutting-edge equipment, ensuring that customers of all sizes have their orders completed in-house to the highest specification.

Core business for Katmex is centred around the supply of components to manufacturers of construction machinery such as dump trucks, forklifts, excavators and cranes and as well as maintaining a successful relationship with Komatsu since day one, the business also lists the likes of Caterpillar and JCB in an eye-catching order book.

But when the construction sector was effectively put on hold during lockdown, it is easy to see how Katmex was affected.

“It has been an uncertain time, but we’ve come through it and we’re looking to expand now with around 15 new roles to fill,” added Lee.

“We are looking to increase the headcount in the coming weeks to around 180 across both sites, and there are positions for CNC machinists, fabricator/welders and CNC plasma operators.

“Experienced applicants would be welcomed, but we are also developing our own in-house trainee development plan with support from outside training organisations so there is a genuine chance of progression for both young applicants and those looking for a career in manufacturing within the area.”

For more information on Katmex and the career opportunities on offer, visit katmex.co.uk/careers