Rescued fire door manufacturer eyes up growth

Posted by on 5 Feb 2020

Image: Rescued fire door manufacturer eyes up growth

Photo © Tim Fairley, Managing Director of PDS

Fire door manufacturer PDS is set to grow turnover by 20 per cent to £10m just 12 months after fears that it could close altogether.

Based in Littleborough, near Rochdale, PDS are specialists in the manufacture of FD30 and FD60 security fire doors, with the number indicating the minimum minutes of protection the doors must offer against fires.

The company currently employs 85 people but managing director Tim Fairley wants to increase that immediately to 100 and then 150 inside three years.

It represents a remarkable turnaround for PDS, which Fairley co-founded in 2003 and grew to a turnover of £13.5m and a workforce to 148 when it was acquired by US-based door manufacturer Masonite International Corporation.

However, partly due to a production realignment, by 2018 turnover had dropped to £7m and the workforce to 60 when Masonite announced it was considering closing the Littleborough facility altogether.

Rather than see it close Fairley formed part of a 14-strong consortium that bought the business back in March 2019 and set about transforming its fortunes.

The 52-year-old entrepreneur said: “For the last 10-15 years we’d been one of the town’s biggest employers and it would have been devastating if it had closed.

“All 14 investors work in the business and they all put in a reasonable stake to give us working capital and investment for new machinery and plant.

“What we now have is an employee-owned business, a co-operative with everybody pulling together to make this business successful.”

Fairley admits PDS has become a victim of its own success and is launching a recruitment campaign as it looks to create an extra 65 jobs in three years.

“We’re highly accredited and specialise in supplying to high rise buildings so our fire doors are in demand from developers, housing associations and local authorities,” said Fairley.

He explained that following the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) carried out an industry-wide investigation into the manufacture and compliance of fire doors to make sure they met the most rigorous safety standards.

Fairley added: “We want people to work in and understand the business for years to come and we are aware we need a succession plan in place to continue to build this great business.

“It would have been awful for the area if PDS had closed and we want to make sure that never happens.

“It’s been a remarkable 12 months since we bought the business back from Masonite but we’re convinced the best is yet to come. If young people or apprentices are looking for a fantastic career then we want them to come to PDS. I get a huge amount of satisfaction in knowing our doors are keeping people safe.”

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