Maintaining supply to critical utilities customers and helping protect vital IT cabling for the NHS has kept the UK’s oldest hot dip galvanizer open for business during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Corbetts the Galvanizer has used its 160 years of experience to pivot some of its operations to provide galvanizing services for covers at sewage treatment plants and for cable trays and ladder racking used at the NHS Nightingale Hospitals in Birmingham and Manchester.
The company, which has kept more than 50% of its workforce operational, is now planning to ramp up volumes in line with Government guidance on social distancing and increased activity within its other customer markets, including leisure, automotive and trailer manufacturing.
“It has been a really challenging period, but I’m very proud of our outstanding workforce who has enabled us to support existing and new customers supplying services and parts to the frontline,” explained Sophie Williams, Finance Director and General Manager at Corbetts the Galvanizers.
“We wanted to keep as much capacity as we feasibly could open, so decided to shut Plant A, whilst moving over some staff to Plant B. This gave us 24-hour coverage, seven days per week and meant we could respond quickly to urgent orders, such as the ones we completed for the NHS.”
She continued: “Sales in a number of core markets dropped off the cliff in April after a pretty strong March and, like many firms, we had to react accordingly…using the Government’s furlough scheme to protect some of our workers.
“We are expecting some of these markets to return and volumes to gradually pick-up again, albeit slowly. As this happens, we will look to bring more of our staff back and potentially explore reopening Plant A.”
2020 marks 160 years of Corbetts the Galvanizers supplying world class hot dip galvanizing to thousands of customers across the UK and Europe.
The company, which was originally founded by Samuel Corbett, opened its Wellington factory in 1860 and Shropshire has remained its home ever since.
However, today’s site on Halesfield, its base since 1999, will be barely recognisable to those that started out all those years ago, with a new water recovery system in place, state-of-the-art kettles installed and a 13-strong fleet of vehicles in the yard acting as the distribution nerve centre for serving its client base.
With Covid-19 causing drops in volume, the firm decided to use some of the downtime to focus on implementing a number of new operational efficiencies, securing an average weight per boom increase of 80% and introducing a new process for yard management to speed up workflow.
Sophie continued: “At Corbetts, we want to ensure our key workers, who are committed to producing galvanised streel for critical infrastructure and the transport sectors, are safe.
“We have increased the levels of deep cleaning in high traffic areas and altered the way we do internal meetings so there are no longer large gatherings in smaller offices. We have PPE in place, but have had to order face masks from China as we are unable to get any stock from the UK.”
She concluded: “We are open for business and looking to support our existing and new customers as they safely return to work and start to get the economy moving again.”