RUComfy, Blackburn

A FLEDGLING firm in Blackburn earned itself a seat at the Olympics top table with a £180,000 deal for bean bags for the London games.

Staff at rucomfy in Blackburn were given a tight deadline by Lord Coe’s organising committee - the fabric had to be just right shade and dyed and cut to exacting specifications.

But before too long 8,500 colourful creations were winging their way from rucomfy’s Weir Street plant to the capital.

Geoff worked for a number of years with his father, Geoff Ainsworth senior, in the soft furnishings business, initially selling pet beds and then going on to provide beanbags for major names such as Argos, Littlewoods, John Lewis and Debenham, before the market was swamped by cheap imports from the Far East.

The younger Ainsworth would later go it alone with rucomfy, establishing the current web-based business in 2009 and now employing 10 people.

Year-on-year both turnover and pre-tax profits have steadily climbed as the enterprise grows.

The managing director said: “We now have six websites either live or in the process of being populated with products that will cover a wide range of soft furnishings, as well as investing in a large format digital printer so we can print custom beanbags and expand into other printed products like canvasses and cushions.

“We have also recently invested in four new sewing machines which can double our current output.”

Geoff is also looking to the future by taking on apprentices to cover admin duties and trainee manufacturing posts.

Geoff added: “We have entered as we feel as a small business our achievements should be recognised.”

Altham Oak and Carpentry

HI-tech knowhow has planted the seeds of success already for Hyndburn woodworking specialist Altham Oak and Carpentry.

When civil engineers in Turkey were looking for oak frames and trusses for a prestige home construction in the Anatolian Mountains, it was the design specs coming out of a former corn mill on Burnley Road which caught their eye.

Oak firm director David Goffin became adept at modelling programme Google sketchup and passed his expertise on to train up company secretary Derek Goffin so he could perfect the sales pitch.

The co-operative run company had laid the foundations for their success by establishing an effective web presence - via - which allowed them to negotiate for the £161,000 contract.

Derek said: “When an opportunity for an export job came up which was, in itself, more than most of the previous year’s turnover, we were persuasive enough to land the job.

“We had trained ourselves in the 3D modelling programme and the client found that our modelling of their two-dimensional plans allowed him to make effective decisions about the oak frames before the work started. I am sure this added value was important to him.”

And Altham Oak bosses are hopeful that ‘word of mouth’, generated around the Turkish mountain retreat, may help to secure further work in the country.

Founded in 1989, the company fashions all kinds of bespoke products in green oak.

Veka, Burnley

IN a landmark year, Burnley PVC-U outfit VEKA has made a play to be the leading player in its UK market.

The last 12 months has seen the Farrington Road firm launch a successful takeover bid for Bowater Building Products in the West Midlands.

And in its 25th year of trading in East Lancashire, bosses at the group saw turnover rocket from more than £28million to in excess of £85million. Now with a workforce of over 500, up on the 155-strong roll previously, management at VEKA has every right to be bullish about prospects for 2012 and beyond.

Work is ongoing to construct a multi-million- pound mixing plant, to stand alongside a state-of-the-art £10million warehouse complex, under the stewardship of supply chain director Shane Gray, who made the move north following the Bowater takeover, and former aerospace boss Graham Fitton, as finance director.

Brand manager Rebecca Mayhew said: “The deal was an exciting event during a great year for VEKA - we celebrated our 25th anniversary of manufacturing in the UK, a feat which few other window systems companies can boast.

“We have never rested on our laurels though and are renowned for ongoing investment and development in our product range.

“This year we have continued to look to the future, as we have done for the last 25 years, Our Infinity recycled window system is only the latest in a long tradition of environmental initiatives and industry firsts by VEKA.”

In the past the company was responsible for the first ‘A’ rated window, in terms of energy efficiency, alongside pioneering PVC-U recycling and banning lead stabilisers.

An extrusion plant was first constructed in Burnley in 1986, beginning with a staff of 30 but quickly expanding to a much larger footprint on the industrial estate.

Owned by the Laumann family of German industrialists, the Burnley site has sister plants across the world.

Bosses have also played their part in the local community and have provided a base for Burnley’s police cadets for the past several years as well as supporting a campaign to take on more apprentices. efforts .

The company has also been supportive of recent efforts by Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle to take on more apprentices.