Having been in the leaf chain business in the UK for over 30 years, FB Chain has reaffirmed its commitment to the market by moving to a new purpose-built production facility.
Since 1986, FB Chain has established itself as the UK’s leading industrial leaf chain manufacturer and supplier, all from a 12,000 sq ft – if a little low-ceilinged – premises in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire.
But as of 2017, the company is operating out of a bespoke, high-tech facility on Works Road, just a stone’s throw from the old site.
Although the new build is only 3,000 sq ft larger, the 6m-high roof enables a much better use of vertical space; where the old building could only store 400 pallets, the new facility can store more than 900.
“By building up instead of out, we have been able to increase our output capability without dramatically increasing our footprint,” says managing director Peter Church.
The future’s bright
The design also includes a number of features to improve staff working conditions, including a greater emphasis on light. The building features two large windows in the main factory floor, which is rare for large industrial buildings, as well as 50% more roof lighting than a standard facility. The lighting for the entire building is also triggered by sensors that detect movement and heat, making the facility economical and eco-friendly.
“As most of our staff spend about half of their day on their feet, we’ve also introduced stand-up desks,” Peter says. “All in all, we’ve managed to create a really positive working environment.”
The facility was built in partnership with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, a local self-funding charity that owns much of the town’s land. It was established at the start of the 20th Century, with the defining principle to develop a settlement full of green open space where people could live away from the factories. Establishing places of work that offer a good quality of life is as important today as when the charity was founded.
“We contacted the Heritage Foundation as soon as we decided we wanted to relocate,” Peter says. “At the time, it looked like the space we needed wasn’t available and we’d have to move outside Letchworth. However, the Foundation was aware that 90% of our employees live within a few miles and were keen to keep employment in Letchworth. So, they cleaned up a contaminated industrial site just around the corner and invested £2million to develop the site, and had lots of input in the building’s design too. It’s truly a great charity, and all the money they generate gets invested back into the community.”
The new chapter
The new premises will officially open for business this month, despite having been operational for a few weeks, and Peter is looking ahead to the next stage of FB Chain’s journey with added enthusiasm. “From this new premises, we’re confident we can continue to produce high quality leaf chain for the materials handling industry for many more years to come,” he says.