In 1989 my father, Lionel Wernick, negotiated the purchase of rival modular company, Swiftplan buildings. Swiftplan, unlike the Wernick Group at that time, specialised in the manufacture of steel framed and steel clad modular buildings.
This acquisition heralded significant changes to the Group over subsequent years. As steel frame came to dominate the market, production in Wernick’s other two factories was eventually moved to Nidum Works at Neath, where both the facilities and the workforce were better adapted to the manufacture of steel frame units.
In recent years, however, it became increasingly obvious that the space and facilities available at Neath were not adequate to meet the current demand for our products. For that reason the manufacturing base of the Group has been relocated to Kenfig Industrial Estate, to the west of Port Talbot.
As this new site is only twenty minutes’ drive along the M4, the factory can retain its current staff, as well as employing more on the factory floor to help meet demand. The first units through the new factory will be for the new office building to be placed at the front of the factory.
For my part I can confidently say that during the planning process I learnt more about the Great Crested Newt than I ever expected to in my life. It was rumoured this protected species had a habitat near the site that may be adversely affected by our operations. Fortunately they appear to have better sense than to take up residence in a dormant patch of land in an industrial estate, allowing development of the site to proceed.
Quite a substantial programme of development was needed. This included installation of a reinforced gantry system, resurfacing large portions of the site with concrete and installing three roller shutter doors at the rear of the factory to allow completed units to roll straight out into the yard. More cosmetic improvements were also made, such as renewing the exterior cladding as well as renovating the existing offices. We have also installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of the factory building. The total investment at the site is approximately £3.5 million.
I believe the new factory will prove to be every bit as significant in the growth of the Group as the purchase of Swiftplan was. Over the next 18-24 months we expect to create over 50 new jobs in the area, and when coupled with the continuing evolvement of product lines and the Company’s recent expansion into Scotland, the next year or two promises to be very exciting time for the Company and the Group as a whole.