Moray engineering firm to create dozens of jobs in seven-figure expansion

A North-east engineering and construction firm is expanding thanks to a £2.5 million investment that will allow it to more than double production capacity and take on dozens of extra staff.

Director Graham Alexander with managing director and owner of AJ Engineering Alan James.

AJ Engineering, which is based in Moray, has expanded its Forres-based manufacturing sites by adding 4.7 acres of land that was previously owned by the local council.

The move will see the existing buildings at the former sawmill site being refurbished and a new automated fabrication facility being installed.

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The firm currently employs about 80 staff including seven apprentices, but the expansion plans could see as many as 36 jobs created over the next three years.

Company owner Alan James said: “We had previously rented the buildings and ground from Moray Council and we were delighted that they agreed to sell the site to enable our future development plans.

“Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE) has been fully involved in the development of these plans and supported us in this project with a grant of £420,000 for our investment in the first and second phases.

“The plan now is to refurbish the buildings and to install a new automated fabrication facility at the site. The purpose of this investment is to make us more efficient and it will provide the company with the ability to increase its throughput but at a lower production cost.

“The new equipment will mean that our skilled fabricators will be available to concentrate on the more technical projects and no longer have to spend time measuring or marking beams or drilling them as the new machine will be able to do all this automatically from the details downloaded directly from our drawing office.

“With the skilled workforce being available we would be able to seek a greater number of complex projects.”

He added: “This is a three-year, three phase project. Phase one is to refurbish the existing buildings at Waterford and purchase and commission a cut and drill line. Phase two is the installation of an automatic shotblaster and the third phase is the purchase of a plate processor.

“It is expected that we will see the automated fabrication cut and drill line being up and running for mid-summer 2021.”

The last major investment from the company was in October 2015 when it bought the Fort William-based engineering firm Northern Engineering & Welding Co (NEWCo).

AJ Engineering currently sits on a total of 2.25 acres at its Greshop Industrial Estate sites, while sister company NEWCo comprises a workshop within 2.7 acres.

Steve Richards, business development account manager with HIE, said: “Moray is renowned for innovation and manufacturing across many sectors and AJ Engineering is a key part of this.

“This is a fantastic project and a great example of a dynamic Scottish manufacturing firm pursuing its growth ambitions through innovation and automation.

“It’s also brilliant news for Forres and the wider local economy, particularly in relation to the expectations of new opportunities for young people through apprenticeships.

“We are very pleased to be able to provide support and very much look forward to seeing the new facility take shape.”

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