Fire door factory recruits 40 staff following buyout

Tim Fairley

A Rochdale fire door manufacturer has grown its workforce to 100 just 18 months after it was rescued from possible closure.

PDS, in Littleborough, had 60 staff and a turnover of £7m when former co-founder Tim Fairley headed up a 14-strong consortium and bought it back in March 2019.

In just 18 months the company has recruited 40 new members of staff to take the workforce to exactly 100 and grown turnover to £10m – despite being locked down at the start of the pandemic.

The company has invested £1m in new machinery and product testing and certification and plans to expand into the healthcare and education sectors in 2021.

Managing director Tim Fairley said: “Our strategy has all been about going for profitable and organic growth. Our order book now stands at more than £2m so we’re very optimistic about 2021.

“Reaching 100 staff is a significant milestone for PDS, but we hope it’s just the first of many.

“It’s also good for the local economy – 32 of our 40 new recruits in the last 18 months have a Rochdale postcode and the balance live within 10 miles and it’s vital that money goes into the local area. We’re also committed to recruiting even more apprentices.”

PDS specialise in the manufacture of FD30 and FD60 security fire doors, with the number indicating the minimum minutes of protection the doors must offer against fires.

Mr Fairley co-founded PDS in 2003 and grew the company to a turnover of £13.5m and a workforce of 148 when it was acquired by US-based door manufacturer Masonite International Corporation.

However, in 2018 Masonite announced it was considering closing the Littleborough facility altogether.

Mr Fairley formed part of a consortium that bought the business back and set about reviving its fortunes.

Its fire doors are mainly used in multiple occupancy buildings. Mr Fairley said: “The product testing and certification is crucial because you cannot supply a fire door into the social housing sector that doesn’t comply with the most up-to-date certification, and that’s exactly as it should be. It’s why we’ve continually invested so heavily in our product testing and development.

“Moving forward we think the education and healthcare sectors have real potential for us with the planned investment from the Government. They all need fire doors, albeit to a slightly different specification.

“We are currently undergoing another tranche of investment in plant and machinery to get into those sectors.”

Cllr John Blundell, cabinet member for regeneration, business, skills and employment at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “PDS is a brilliant asset to Rochdale’s vibrant business community and its ability to grow during COVID is testimony to its leadership.

“The impact of closing would have been devastating, but the fact they’ve grown by 40 staff to 100 staff is a fantastic transformation.”