The iconic image of the Olympic rings rising above the stadium at last year’s opening ceremony was made possible by hundreds of metres of black wire-rope manufactured by a growing Barnsley business. Hawk Lifting, of Grimethorpe, is proud to have supplied lifting gear for the showpiece stunt through one of their high-profile clients, Stage One Creative Services Ltd of York.
“We were a small cog in a big wheel,” said director of Hawk Lifting David Nixon, “But it was exciting to be involved in such a huge national celebration and to try and spot our wire ropes on TV pulling up the Olympic rings – and the smoking chimneys – at the opening ceremony.”
Hawk Lifting, who design, manufacture, supply and inspect a wide range of lifting gear and rigging equipment including chains, slings, wire ropes, lifting beams and cranes, expect to reach a £1 million turnover this year.
David and co-director Barrie Johnson set up the business six years ago and the company has grown rapidly thanks to quickly securing sales through a growing number of customers working in diverse sectors.
Hawk Lifting has designed crane beams for Morrisons supermarket food production lines; inspected complex roof structures at the FA’s Burton-on-Trent National Football Centre: and, through Stage One again, designed the hooks and lines needed to enable life-size dinosaurs to move their heads and acrobats to perform hundreds of feet above the ground, in world-touring shows, Walking with Dinosaurs and Cirque de Soleil’s Zarkana.
Their diverse 400-strong client list includes Outokumpu, Forgemasters and the Royal National Theatre. They supply the off-shore market with many contracts for lifting equipment on oil rigs and have a high count of buyers in Scotland.
Exports to customers in India, New Zealand, Gibraltar and Libya also represent a growing part of their business. They’ve even supplied a couple of winches to a sultan’s yacht.
David said: “We’ve surprised ourselves how quickly we’ve grown and gained clients. People have sought us out. Barrie and I have known each other for years and we started our own business in Barrie’s garage in 2007. On the back of a very detailed business plan, we finalised our growth targets over a pint. But we very quickly outgrew the garage and blew our projections out of the water.”
David and Barrie, who have over 50 years of experience in engineering between them, now have a 4,000 square foot manufacturing facility at Spring Park industrial estate, Grimethorpe, and employ a workforce of eight.
They have just invested £100,000 in specialist machinery to enable them to manufacture more of their own bespoke engineered and wire rope products and recruited an in-house design engineer, which means they are able to take on more design and build commissions to meet clients’ specific needs.
The company is now being helped to expand further by the Enterprising Barnsley programme which supports high-growth businesses in the borough. Hawk Lifting’s ambition is to double turnover in the next three years and recruit four more engineers.
Enterprising Barnsley Business Development Manager John Heckingbottom said: “Hawk Lifting has grown organically so far and very quickly become the go-to business for many buyers in the ‘below the hook’ market.
“We are now working with them on a co-ordinated business development and marketing strategy to help maximise the company’s return on investment in its workshop and workforce and manage further sustainable growth.”
“It’s great to see a Barnsley SME building its reputation as a specialist manufacturer and supplier to national and international clients.”
The Enterprising Barnsley programme is delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Enterprising Barnsley is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme. Enterprising Barnsley aims to support Barnsley-based businesses with growth potential.