Construction growth bolsters Sunderland manufacturer

The Fencehouse Truss Company is investing £100,000 in a 40-tonne press while also creating new jobs to operate the machinery – a major spend which comes just 18 months after the firm spent £70,000 on a smaller press

A Sunderland firm manufacturing roof trusses for the construction industry is growing its turnover and headcount on the back of surging confidence in the housing market.

The Fencehouse Truss Company is investing £100,000 in a 40-tonne press while also creating new jobs to operate the machinery – a major spend which comes just 18 months after the firm spent £70,000 on a smaller press.

The firm set up base in a purpose-built factory at Houghton-le-Spring five years ago and has increased its workforce from three to 15 in that time, despite starting trading during one of the most difficult periods the construction industry has ever faced.

Steve Harris, who runs Fencehouse Truss with co-directors Steven Brown and Steve Cauwood, said more jobs will hopefully follow as the firm expands in tandem with the buoyant housing sector.

He said: “We haven’t known anything different to the recession. We built the factory from scratch and set up as the recession had started.

“But from our point of view, this is the best start of the year we’ve ever had. We started with three people and now we are up to 15. Despite the recession we have managed to grow steadily.”

Fencehouse Truss has manufactured roof trusses for house builders including Taylor Wimpey as well as working on major projects for Manchester and Birmingham Airports and hospice sites for Marie Curie Cancer Care. It is currently working on a large nursing home for Gentoo at Doxford Park.

The company is now targeting a £2m turnover for this year – a sales increase of around 25% compared to 2013. Harris said: “There has been a significant increase in work. There’s a lot more confidence from the housebuilders to build new schemes.

“We have taken on two new staff, with one eye on the arrival of the new press, so we can get them trained in the way we do things. We’ll probably take on another two or three people.”

The new press, due to arrive in April, pushes together the roof trusses – the wooden and metal framework that supports a building’s roof.

Fencehouse Truss received advice and support from Sunderland City Council as it expanded, continuing a relationship which started even before the business was set up.

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