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Young builds upon the faith of his founding father

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 Archibald Young Ltd, Foundryman Article

For whom the bell tolls

  Archibald Young Ltd, Export Article  

Exporting success

Archibald Young Ltd, Herald Article  

Young builds upon the faith of his founding father

   Premier Castings Ltd, Oldham Chronicle

 Breaking the mould for aid

Article taken from the Herald newspaper - Wednesday November 14, 2001 
Young builds upon the faith of his founding father

Scots firm can cast everything from saints to submarines                                     Ron Clark

 

Ian Young inspecting a cast

CASTING AN EYE: Ian Young, managing director of Archibald Young Founders, watches over activities on the Kirkintilloch factory floor. Picture: Edward Jones

IAN Young drives a rather tasty maroon S-type Jag. Quite fitting for a managing director of a successful brassfounding company, you might murmur. But few MDs would use the boot of their Jag to deliver brass castings to their customers.

Young is, if you'll forgive the analogy, of a different mould. A man who learnt his trade from the bottom up, he has just opened up the first new foundry in Scotland for a decade.

His leap of faith comes at a time when traditional foundries are being extinguished all over the country. More than 30 closed in the UK last year.

But his Archibald Young Founders and Engineers group is profitable on a turnover of 2.26m in the year to October, up from 1.14m when he took full control in 1998. He is projecting 3m for next year and 5m within four years. The company employs 65 people.

The new foundry, which employs 20, is in Motherwell. It opened in April this year with an investment of nearly 300,000. Like the main plant in Kirkintilloch and a plant in Manchester which employs 14, it produces a huge range of jobs, from a bronze statue of St Cuthbert for the Holy Isle, through pumps and valves, to nickel bronze castings for nuclear submarines.

Young insists that it is this diversity of product which has seen the group survive and prosper since it was founded by his father in Kirkintilloch in 1959. He takes particular pride in the fact that it still makes 2000 doors a year for Britain's remaining red telephone boxes - an activity which once supported four foundries in the Dunbartonshire town.

"My father went into brass founding because, unlike the big requirements of a steel foundry, all it takes is a hole in the ground and a wee furnace," said Young in his Motherwell office. "He bought a second-hand furnace for 5, and some men from the foundry he used to work in helped him pour the castings when they finished at night.

"His biggest customer was the Lion Foundry, which was the sole supplier of telephone boxes to what was then the GPO."

As Young senior built up the business, he expanded into traditional marine engineering, casting non-ferrous items like ship stabilisers and steering gear for now-vanished Clyde shipyards like Barclay Curle and Brown Bros.

Young joined in 1969, after taking degrees in history and economics. "It was hardly the ideal qualification, and I did a four-year apprenticeship in the foundry - doing everything from simple castings and melting alloys to sweeping the floor," he said

He became concerned about being dependent on one or two major customers and, after helping establish a custom-built foundry in Kirkintilloch in 1973, set about creating a wider client base.

His strategy has been to become a niche player positioned between very large, capital-intensive foundries making components for industries like car manufacture, and small, family-owned jobbing foundries.

"My father believed there would always be a place for a foundry which was capable of making short runs in any sort of metal," he said. Although his father officially retired in 1982, he worked until his death in 1998, when Young assumed full control.

Growth, at first exclusively organic, was augmented by acquisition: small foundries in Alloa, and Perth, then a shop in Motherwell which gave him computer-controlled machining capability and pattern-making skills. The Manchester acquisition added iron casting. Growth was aided by the judicious capture of customers as other foundries closed.

The main business now is pump and valve manufacture for the shipbuilding, water, and oil industries. The foundries can cast most metals except steel - including copper-base alloys, aluminium alloys, cast iron, and admiralty-standard nickel bronze for nuclear submarine re-fits at VSEL Barrow. This last is a sector of which Young has high hopes for growth, since few shops are willing to take on the work - it requires high metallurgy skills and is risky, with high-percentage breakages and waste.

Nearly half of the group's turnover comes from south of the border and Young exports to eight countries. All acquisitions - and the establishment of the new Motherwell plant - have been funded from retained profits.

"I have followed my father's philosophy of never borrowing and only buying something when I could afford it," said Young, who expects his son to succeed him in the business.

"I don't know if that's the smart way, but it allows me to sleep at night."

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