Loyal workers rack up 416 years' service at Suffolk lighting firm

A group of employees at Jim Lawrence outside the Hadleigh office

A group of 25 employees at Jim Lawrence have 416 combined years of service and experience - Credit: Jim Lawrence

Long-serving employees at a Suffolk lighting and homeware manufacturer are celebrating 416 years of combined experience as the business continues to grow. 

A group of 25 veteran employees at Jim Lawrence, a Hadleigh-based lighting brand, have helped nurture and develop the business over nearly 30 years. 

The business, run by Jim and his wife, Sheena, prides itself on its manufacturing roots and dedication to family. 

It employs up to three generations of local families and several pairs of husband and wives, within a team of 150 engineers, welders, painters, designers, technicians, lampshade and curtain makers and support staff. 

Technical team lead Lee Saxby has been with the business for around 20 years and said he'd "seen a lot of changes", adding: "Back in the day at Jim's farm there were only five or six of us making about 20 products a month, whereas now there are 15 or 16 of us making 80 to 90. 

"Jim used to work with us in the workshop and he and Sheena are still very hands-on and come down all the time.  

"Our managers also worked alongside us once, so you build up good relationships and new people find it easy to fit in." 

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Mr and Mrs Lawrence started the company in 1994, when he decided to set up a forge in one of the farm buildings, making a small range of candlesticks and chandeliers to sell at farms and markets. 

Expansion occurred quickly, first into gates, railings and curtain poles and then into electrical items, which now account for around 70% of sales. 

Jim Lawrence moved to new premises in 2000, having outgrown its original farm building, and has kept growing ever since. 

Mr Lawrence said: "Sheena and I have been incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many loyal and long-serving colleagues who have made our business what it is today. 

"Their hard work and creativity have transformed a kitchen table enterprise into the inspirational British brand that we have today." 

Earlier this month, Jim Lawrence announced the acquisition of Suffolk Glass, an artisan glassblowing company based out of Clare. 

All five Suffolk Glass employees were kept on in the merger, which was described by Mr Lawrence as "a natural step" for both businesses.