Siddall and Hilton Products, the Brighouse-based welded steel mesh products manufacturer, has, for the first time, been recognised as one of the UK’s ‘Best Companies’ to work, achieving one star accreditation for the ‘world-class employee engagement’ of its 60-strong workforce. It was ranked amongst the top 10 manufacturing companies, the top 50 companies in the Yorkshire & Humber region and the top 75 small companies in the UK.
The company, which had previously been given a ‘one to watch’ rating, once again took part in the nationally recognised and respected ‘Best Companies’ scheme which is a standard of excellence for UK businesses. The initiative assesses workplace engagement and measures it against the rigorous Best Companies Index score, which covers factors such as leadership, wellbeing and personal growth, in order to celebrate and showcase outstanding employers.
“Since the MBO three years ago, the business has undergone a transformation with significant investment in equipment and process improvements, along with cultural change aimed at empowering our team and ensuring that they come along with us on our growth journey,” explains chief executive Ian Thurley. “To have been recognised by such a prestigious national scheme as a company which is ‘very good to work for’ is a real achievement, showing that we have been able to create a highly engaged and committed team.”
After putting in a resilient performance amid the pandemic disruption of 2020/21, Siddall and Hilton Products also returned a strong financial performance for the year ending 31 March 2022, achieving a turnover of £25.3m, although this was, in part, a reflection of the sharp increase in global steel prices following the pandemic and then accelerated by the war in Ukraine.
Having made its largest investment in more than 12 years with the addition of a fifth specialist welding machine as well as recruiting a number of new mesh operators, the company saw overall operating efficiency drop slightly in the first half of the year as operators were trained on the new machine and early teething problems were ironed out, but this showed significant improvement over the final six months.
For the year ending March 2022, the company recorded a step change in operating efficiency, whilst scrap reduced by over 7% which helped to drive pre-tax profits to £4.6m, despite its operations and raw material supply chain being adversely impacted by Covid-related staff absences and HGV driver shortages.
Thurley continues: “It’s fantastic to see the business going from strength to strength and, since the 2019 MBO, we have been committed to ensuring that we share the company’s success with our loyal team. 2021/22 has been no different with every employee receiving a significant profit-related bonus. We felt that this was not only well-deserved, but was also important to help with the cost-of-living crisis faced by our staff.
“We are as proud of the cultural change we have driven as we are of Siddall and Hilton’s performance improvement – the company is unrecognisable from the one I joined as a temporary finance manager back in 2012. Not only do we regularly receive positive feedback from our team, we’re also seeing colleagues coming together as one focused team with a common objective. They are determined to do better tomorrow than they did today, there’s a new appetite for learning and development and a palpable, excited buzz around the place as we begin to share and deliver our strategic plans for the business in the form of major investment in site refurbishment and redevelopment, robotics and machinery, along with training and developing our people to become the best that they can be.”
Thurley concludes: “The company is about to embark on a hugely ambitious strategic programme to grow and diversify the business, with the aim of creating a high-performing, sustainable business that is set to provide secure and rewarding employment for many generations to come.”
Processing over 22,000 miles of wire a month, Siddall and Hilton Products is the UK’s largest manufacturer of industrial welded steel mesh for high-security fencing, general fencing and industrial mesh panels. With a heritage stretching back 127 years, the company is continuing to grow its workforce with the recruitment and training of new mesh operators as well as a range of development programmes to upskill its team.