Aycliffe Fabrications reflect on ten years since “In Our Image” and look forward to an exciting future

For many people entering Aycliffe Business Park, the stunning head structure at the A1 entrance “In Our Image” has become an iconic symbol representing not only the park but the many companies situated on the business park. 

In June, “In Our Image” is ten years old.  Who could have predicted ten years ago that the structure would be adopted by the business park to represent the local business community?

For Aycliffe Fabrications, who were commissioned to manufacture the stunning piece of art, it has become a piece of artwork they are proud to be associated with.  It also represents a ten-year journey of success through to the present day of expansion and the announcement of record sales.

In 2015, Christine Bewley took over as sole owner and Managing Director at Aycliffe Fabrications.  With a dedication to making the company one of the best small companies in the area, she has focused on making it more efficient, investing in staff and new technology.

Christine said: “Although I took over as sole owner in 2015, I have been with the business for over 30 years and was a key member of the team involved in the manufacture and installation of “In Our Image”.  It was an exciting and stressful time ensuring the structure was manufactured to specification and the artist’s requirements, then transported to site and erected.  The satisfaction we experienced was overwhelming and still is every day I drive past.

“Shortly after the installation of “In Our Image”, recession gripped the economy, and we experienced a difficult few years.  It was due to our established customer relationships, dedicated workforce and reputation for quality, service and reliability that we were able to fight through the recession and flourish again. It’s great to be able to say that we are still working with our very first customer!”

By 2016 Christine had recruited a Business Manager, Katie Flanagan into the business to play a pivotal role within the management team, providing a strong commercial lead for the business focusing on achieving efficiency and growth.  Katie also introduced a new marketing strategy to raise the awareness of Aycliffe Fabrications across the region and within key industry sectors.

The team further expanded in 2018 with the introduction of a new apprentice, Matthew Brown, in a move to ensure the skills and craftsmanship within the company were passed on to build the company for the future.

2019 will see their Senior Tradesman John Flanagan celebrate 25 years with the company and in 2020, Colin Henderson, Technical and Estimating Manager and the first Aycliffe Fabrications apprentice will celebrate 40 years’ service. Chris Parkin, another Senior Tradesman, has been with the company 20 years confirming their long history of retaining quality people.

Christine continues: “Our success is a testament to our staff commitment, skills and experience. My main objective has always been to invest in the business and our people, which we have done over the past few years, and will continue to do.  We carry out highly specialist work, therefore, all our employees have served an apprenticeship and are Construction Skills Certification Scheme accredited.”

The Company has opened up new opportunities for both new and existing customers with the investment in an Ermaksan press brake and the delivery of a new Swift-Cut plasma CNC machine as well as other new equipment.  They have also invested heavily in health and safety requirements across the company. Dave Mann, Production Manager, is NEBOSH qualified and ensures they continue with their recognised high standards.

The local community is also close to Aycliffe Fabrication’s heart. They have worked closely with the UTC South Durham since it opened in 2015 offering work placements, apprenticeship experience, student projects and student presentations to help the students understand and experience workplace life. They are also on the UTC Employer Group representing small businesses, helping SME’s and the UTC work better together.

Indirectly, Aycliffe Fabrications is supporting its local business community by outsourcing key functions such as health and safety and by increasing its own supply chain.

The workforce at Aycliffe Fabrications has and will always be at the heart of the company.  The commitment shown by everyone since Christine took over the company has meant they have gone from strength to strength. It has contributed towards turning a company with negative equity into a strong, profitable business with a very positive balance sheet.

As a manufacturer of bespoke metal products in mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium and Cor-ten, Aycliffe Fabrications service a wide range of customers from large-scale manufacturers through to local authorities and schools. Their core business is within factory maintenance, security, safety and artistic commissions.

Increasingly, the business is becoming more involved in industrial work within factories, providing everything from platforms, barriers, guards and maintenance. They continue to be involved in artistic commissions, their most recent being a Cor-ten seat commissioned by artist Jane Crawford to commemorate the WW1 heroes ‘The Bradford Brothers’.

As a full-service company, they handle every stage of a project from the site visit, quotation, drawings, quality manufacture, delivery and installation. With a skilled long-serving workforce, they have the skillset and knowledge to provide solutions to various safety, security and factory maintenance problems and the technical ability to undertake challenging prototype work. The company takes pride in its reputation for high-quality work and excellent customer service.