1998 - Today: One Step Ahead
“We believe that sustainability makes good business sense for Metsec; since 2004 we have worked to consistently reduce our energy usage and emissions. Given the ever increasing costs of energy this represents real savings for our business - all of which have been achieved against a backdrop of increased productivity and efficiency.” Stephen Tilsley
Metsec colour code SFS sections to improve the speed of installation and component recognition.
Metsec is the first manufacturer in the UK to CE mark its Purlin and Framing systems.
The Drylining Division (Hepsec) successfully moves from Coventry to Oldbury.
voestalpine's earnings exceed €10 billion for the first time as the group continues to extend its worldwide operations.
Metsec achieves key sustainability awards in the form of BS EN ISO 14001:2004 and the Steel Construction Sustainability Charter Gold Standard, reflecting its good work in managing its environmental impact.
Trevor Adams becomes the third Metsec employee to complete 50 years service at Metsec, joining Florence Ward and John Jones.
The 75th anniversary of the founding of Metal Sections Ltd is celebrated in September.
Land next to the works, the site of the original Oldbury Carriage Works, is purchased for the erection of new facilities for the Metstrut division.
A new training centre is set up on site for apprentices and is opened on the 20th April by Sir Alan Jones, Chairman of Toyota Europe and SEMTA.
Cable Tray is launched by Metstrut.
A new factory is built and opened by Adrian Bailey MP. This is dedicated to the manufacture of purlins and framing and incorporates the best materials-handing and manufacturing practices. This move also opens the way for the reorganisation of the whole Broadwell Road site. Cable Ladder is launched by Metstrut.
Keith Hirst retires after 26 years at Metsec. The first Metal Industry Competitive Enterprise (MICE) project on lean manufacturing is set up with MetSkill and identifies significant cost and productivity benefits for Metsec. This leads to other projects throughout the company and today involves the whole workforce in improving operations.
The company is sold to an Austrian steel company, voestalpine. This leads to some restructuring and the sale of some non-core businesses, such as Air Tube Conveyors, but also enables significant inward investment over the next decade to keep Metsec in a market-leading position. Mark Radcliffe retires as Non Executive Chairman of Metsec.
The purchase of (SFS) Steel Framing Systems from British Gypsum enables Metsec to offer a complete range of Framing Systems, with both SFS infill systems and complete Metframe structures.
1981 - 1997: New Beginnings
"We were under no illusions that we got it going, or we lost everything. After the buyout we worked a lot harder, but we saw the benefits. We became multi-skilled, and the old demarcations broke down." Terry Webb
The manipulation of profiles to transport related-components is started up again in a small way, producing cab components for tractors, mainly from welded sections. This successful development gradually led to a new division emerging within the company - 'Metsec Profile Manipulation'.
The first Bradbury line comes on stream for purlins, with 'quick-change' facilities to minimise down-time. This also incorporates full pre-piercing of the strip thereby avoiding secondary press operations and bringing a new era of production efficiency to Metsec.
Mark Radcliffe is appointed Non Executive Chairman of Metsec. The first 'Metstrut' cable management system is introduced. The company establishes a separate business area to expand the supply of reinforcing profiles for PVC-u windows and doors.
Metsec opens a new Head Office in Broadwell Road, which is officially opened by John Jones and Florence Ward who have both completed 50 years service with Metsec in 1990.
A significant acquisition is made on the 31st December with the purchase of HEP Cold Rolled Sections in Coventry. HEP makes dry lining systems for buildings, a product range which complements that of Metsec in building applications. 'MetSPEC' computer software is distributed to customers facilitating the design of purlins. It's the first of its type and gives Metsec a competitive edge. This provides the impetus for the application of computer design over the next decade leading to building design using the 'Metframe' system.
The company floats on the stock exchange as 'Metsec plc', raising capital to purchase part of the Broadwell site from TI and finance further acquisitions.
The first Metframe building is successfully completed. This is a two storey hotel in Attleborough, Norfolk.
The new company makes its first acquisition when it purchases Air Tube Conveyors. This will remain part of the company until 2001 when it is sold to a management buy-out.
The application of computers throughout the business begins and a new subsidiary, Metsec Business Systems, is established to develop and market bespoke computer systems for business.
Metsec's activities become less relevant to TI's strategy. Car components, buses, suspended ceilings and Venetian blinds are all sold off. TI then sells the remaining businesses in custom roll-forming and building products to Keith Hirst and four managers in a management buy-out. On June 30th Metal Sections Ltd is re-born with a lease on the site from Tube Investments - as well as a reduced workforce and product range.
1946 - 1980: Rise and fall
"There was a wonderful spirit right through. When it's been decided something is impossible, someone has gone out and got it done." Frank White
Mark Radcliffe joins as Managing Director of TI Metsec, replacing John Johnson who leaves to establish a new purlin line in Madras.
In July 1977 the company changes its name to 'TI Metsec'.
The first-in line welding line is built for manufacturing irregular welded sections for the bus sector.
In 1967 this expansion results in Metal Sections Ltd occupying a second site at Tividale.
Throughout the decade Metal Sections Ltd expands with the boom of components, buildings and the development of building panels known as the 'Metsec Wall System'. Ceiling panels are made under license.
The first Metsec purlins are supplied to Conder. These are made to order and despatched to site having been cut to length and pierced by hand. A few years later, Metal Sections Ltd develops its own purlin design and gradually improves production techniques with in-line piercing processes.
On Sunday 23rd June a large fire destroys the production facilities. The production lines are put out of action. The thousands of precision rolls stored on wooden racks are reduced to a blackened heap and have to be cleaned and sorted into their correct sets. Such is the determination of the workforce that, within a week, most of the production plant is operational again in an adjacent bay.
A twenty-five bay warehouse is built for the US Air Force at Burtonwood, Lancashire, using a novel building concept devised at Metal Sections Ltd. A full-scale experimental bay has to be built at Oldbury and tested to destruction to prove the principle. The warehouse requires 1,500 tons of steel strip to be rolled into 400 miles of section, and fabricated into the supports and beams for the building. This project establishes the use of cold-rolled sections as structural components in large buildings and of Metal Sections Ltd as a significant supplier of such products.
In the early fifties the 'flying cut-off' is developed whereby sections are cut to length in-line. This permits the continuous running of cold-roll forming machines - a significant development in productivity as the lines no longer have to be stopped to cut the sections into lengths that can be handled easily.
The company introduces a new character - 'Mr Metsec', which appears on company lorries, advertising and exhibition stands. This is the first use of the term 'Metsec' which will, in time, become the name of products and ultimately the company itself.
The first kits of parts for building a bus are exported to Argentina. These become known as 'The Bus in a Box' - a major part of the company's activities for the next thirty years, with Hong Kong and India as important customers. The kit includes all the components, from framing to window glass and from screws to stair rails.
Metal Sections Ltd takes its first significant steps in the buildings market with components for post-war prefabricated houses. These include the Airey house, and the Myton house. The company makes its first lattice beams for these projects, a significant step for its future development.
1931 - 1945: Foundations
"I applied for a job in the rolling department. I had to wait six months, and then someone hurt his hand and finished, so I took his place. I was an operator on a machine within three months, and soon after I got my own machine - I was like a kid with a toy train!" Ted Birch
On the 5th August Metal Sections Ltd is re-established as a separate company within Tube Investments, although it maintains close ties with Accles & Pollock. The company moves to the Broadwell site with other TI companies and its sales office is located in the old boardroom of the Carriage Works.
1939 - 45
Production of components for military and war applications dominates production. These include handles for early sten guns, the LILO rocket launcher, components for Bailey bridges, the structural framing for Lancaster bombers, as well as cartridge belt runners for Spitfires.
1932 - 39
Tube Investments Ltd buys Metal Sections Ltd from Major Henderson. In May 1934 they move the operation to the Paddock Works of Accles & Pollock Ltd as part of that company. Through the remainder of the 1930s various transport applications develop, including structural components for buses and railways. Typical are the pillars for coaches and buses.
Major Leonard B Henderson starts a small business at Greet in Birmingham called Metal Sections Ltd. This uses machines of his own design to convert steel strip into profiled sections by cold rolling. The first applications are mainly car components such as window frames.
1750 - 1930: A Feel for the Metal
"Sometimes in the sixties, when we were making the car parts they didn't quite fit the checking jig and they had to be set by twisting them slightly. If you twisted too far, you ruined the part because you put a crease in the metal. Those of us who worked there got a feel for this. You had to have a feel for the metal." John Jones
1919 - 30
In 1919 a consortium of local tube manufacturers and users, including Accles & Pollock Ltd, form Tube Investments Ltd (TI) based in Oldbury. In 1930 Tube Investments Ltd bought The Metropolitan Carriage and Wagon Co Ltd Broadwell Road site in Oldbury where Metsec is based today.
The Oldbury Carriage Works prospers and is sold to the Metropolitan Carriage Co in 1903 to become The Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage and Wagon Co Ltd employing some 2,000 men in the production of around 9,000 railway carriages each year.
A new cold-drawn tube company, Accles and Pollock Ltd, moves to Churchbridge, Oldbury and soon establishes the Paddock Works in Rounds Green.
Since 1750 Oldbury in the West Midlands has become a major centre for the processing and fabrication of iron and steel components. This "feel for the metal" that leads Johnson & Kinder to relocate their railway carriage company from Bromsgrove to Oldbury. They build the Oldbury Carriage Works in Broadwell, in fields next to a canal arm and the new 'Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Stour Valley railway line.