Manufacturer to Double the Size of its Factory After £9.5m Investment

Black Country manufacturer, Drywall Steel Sections, is set top double the size of its operating facility after receiving a £9.5 million investment.

A family-run Black Country manufacturer is to double the size of its operating base with a new, purpose-built factory thanks to a £9.5m investment by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

Drywall Steel Sections Ltd has been at its existing site in Cradley Heath for more than eight years but has outgrown the facility which is also no longer fit for modern production methods.

All that is set to change, however, with the firm getting ready to move to a new 39,500 sq ft factory being built on four-and-a-half acres of brownfield land off Spring Road in Ettinghall, Wolverhampton.

The £13m scheme also includes the construction of 17 commercial starter units for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to move into, which is expected to create around 150 new jobs.

The state-of-the-art factory for Drywall, which manufactures light gauge structural steel framing as well as systems for wall partitions and ceilings, will enable the firm to safeguard existing jobs and provide the extra capacity it needs to grow and take on more people in the future.

The investment is the latest to be made by the WMCA as part of its nationally leading ‘brownfield first’ regeneration programme which is helping to unlock and transform hundreds of acres of former industrial land across the region for high quality, affordable homes and modern premises for job creating businesses.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, visited the site to see where the new factory and commercial units are being built.

The Mayor said: “Despite the challenges of the last couple of years, we’ve continued to help protect our precious green belt by investing in the regeneration of brownfield sites to provide new, affordable housing for local people and commercial spaces for our job creating businesses.

“This latest investment is a great example of how the WMCA is using its funding to help provide modern, fit for purpose premises so that companies like Drywall Steel Sections can grow their businesses, create jobs and help support our regional recovery.

“Manufacturing firms like Drywall remain the backbone of the West Midlands economy and keep our proud manufacturing heritage burning bright. I’m pleased we have been able to support them in this way and look forward to seeing them move into their new factory and continue to prosper.”

In giving the go-ahead for the investment the WMCA Board was told it would not only support the growth plans of a longstanding family-run firm, but the scheme’s 17 new commercial units would also provide much needed space for other SMEs in the area.

Despite the Covid pandemic, the region still has a strong manufacturing base, particularly in the automotive and construction sectors, but the Board was told that the West Midlands is suffering a shortage of new build commercial premises.

Drywall is part of a family-owned group of companies set up by Rajinder and Sunita Gupta more than 20 years ago. Since joining the business five years ago, their son Mayank has taken over as the managing director, and the firm is seeing new growth through fresh vigour.

Mayank, who previously worked in television production management and the financial sector before joining the family firm, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the WMCA for their support in unlocking this brownfield site.

“The new Drywall Steel Sections Ltd. unit and the smaller units on the new Industrial Park provide a significant contribution to the overall regeneration and economic renaissance currently underway all over the West Midlands.

“We are proud to move our manufacturing business’s Headquarters back to our home city of Wolverhampton, retaining all existing staff, with further plans to create more jobs as the company grows”.

Part of the WMCA investment will now be used to cover the cost of dealing with a number of historic mine shafts on the land, which has stood vacant and unused since luxury car maker Rolls Royce stopped using it as a sports ground 15 years ago.

Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land and leader of Walsall Council, added: “The WMCA continues to use the money it has secured from Government to drive forward our ‘brownfield first’ regeneration programme and support our economic recovery set out in our Plan for Growth.

“These sorts of investments not only unlock difficult to develop brownfield sites, in this case one with mine shafts, but also provide developers and investors with the confidence they need to take forward schemes that create new homes and jobs for local people.”

Kieren Turner-Owen, Associate Director at Frontier Development Capital commented; “We’re extremely pleased to have assisted the company with the debt funding required. The scheme will bring forward much needed SME space alongside the state-of-the-art fit for purpose Drywall unit enabling their expansion. The industrial market in the Midlands is still very strong and we’re very much looking forward to continuing to support Drywall and others across the Midlands.”

Access to funding for the project was provided by Frontier Development Capital Ltd, a fund manager working closely with property developers to arrange investments from the WMCA's Commercial Investment Fund (CIF), Residential Investment fund (RIF) and Brownfield Land and Property Development Fund (BLPDF).

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