Crisis-hit firm reaches milestone

A SUFFOLK engineering firm is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year after surviving an “horrendous” period during the economic downturn.

Christmas was cancelled for the Pegg family, which owns Castlebroom Engineering Ltd, as companies collapsed around it, putting the business, based at Farthing Road Industrial Estate in Ipswich, under severe financial strain.

Director David Pegg, who underwent double heart bypass surgery at Papworth hospital in the midst of the crisis, said it had been a story of survival through an “horrendous period” for the company.

“In late November/early December 2009, two companies with whom we had been trading for many years went into administration within three weeks of each other and the net result was a loss to us of over �160,000,” he explained.

“As a small business employing 14 people, it was a struggle to find a solution to keep the company afloat and for us Christmas 2009 was cancelled for the whole family.

“Eventually we managed to obtain an overdraft which was secured against the buildings which we had almost purchased and then we were faced with the ensuing recession.

“Even so, news of this magnitude soon gets around and we had suppliers knocking on our door worrying about our ability to pay for outstanding debts.”

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The precision engineers wrote to the companies, asking them to be patient and extend their credit terms for a short time, which they did, enabling them to continue trading on a very tight budget.

As a result of the company’s difficulties, David and wife Patricia, who should have been retired, returned to help out their son, Stephen, who is managing director, and daughter-in-law Tracy, who is company secretary.

“Both Patricia and myself should have retired, but, due to the seriousness of the situation, have carried on in a part time capacity in order to assist Stephen and Tracy,” said David.

“Full credit must be given to my son Stephen who has steered the production team through the recession and to Tracy who has managed the accounts with a limited amount of experience.”

He added: “I am proud of my family and employees of pulling ourselves out of a major crisis.

Stephen said things were now “fairly busy” and were now looking up for the company, which works for a wide range of clients, mainly doing sub-contract work on rollers, gears and anything to do with mechanical engineering.

Some architectural engineering produced by the company can be found at Tate Modern, Windsor Castle, Covent Garden and the Department for Trade and Industry, said Stephen.

“We are quite busy at the moment, so we are not doing too bad.

“We have made a couple of people redundant about three months ago because like everyone else the volume of work has gone down. We hung on and hung on as long as we dared but we just had to make that decision for the rest of the people,” he added.