COULD the long-awaited first green shoots of Europe’s recovery from industrial doom and gloom have first appeared here in rural Clydesdale of all places?
Whatever, there was certainly rare cause for celebration on this area’s jobs front this week with the news of a huge £3m investment being made in the locally-based BHC Ltd, the steelwork fabricators and erectors already reputed to be our area’s biggest private employers.
With youth unemployment still the biggest headache of all, possibly the best news of all is that part of the money is going into taking on ten new apprentices at BHC, joining the already 285-strong workforce.
They will help meet the demands of a healthy and growing order book.
This is being seen by the firm as very much an investment in the future, not only for the young people who already make up ten per cent of the existing BHC team but also for the firm’s general expansion plans.
The cash will go into new plant as well as new people; it will help with the purchase of 80 ton cranes to help with the company’s installation and delivery systems.
The managing director Brian Hewitt is especially pleased that the investment came to Carnwath via the village’s own branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Although the funding’s source is the RBS’s Corporate and Institutional Banking wing along with Lombard Asset Finance, Brian is pleased that several years of amicable dealing with the local branch of the bank has worked out to their mutual benefit.
He said that the company, which came to Carnwath almost 15 years ago, was currently enjoying many orders from the London area, the place where he says the first signs of economic recovery were expected to be found.
He said that the company had a wide nationwide customer base but, at the moment, most of the major civil engineering projects were going ahead in the English capital and BHC was getting its fair share of the work going.
He added: “We believe that BHC is a first class company, not just in the products we offer but in the processes and staff behind them and I am delighted to now be working with a first-class banking partner.
“The new facilities package provides us with the confidence to continue to invest in the business. This will assist BHC in the next stage of its development.”
Even before the news of the new investment broke, BHC had been making its Carnwath plant even more state-of-the-art; it already has the latest hi-tech beam drilling and plasma cutting lines and just recently added a new 2700 square metre paintshop on a site that has now grown to 50 acres.
Locals who have lived in the village all their lives will remember that the site of this now major employer was, until about 20 years ago, a disused quarry, used as the area’s public cowp.
Its industrial life started under a previous engineering concern, Hamilton’s, but it has been under the BHC banner for the past decade and a half that has witnessed the growth of a major provider of jobs in a rural area where, in hard times, such quality employment is difficult to come by.
New employment for the area’s teenagers is especially welcome during hard economic times like these. Now the site on the edge of the Sir John Mann Park has been transformed into a hub of Clydesdale’s manufacturing industry.