Catterall firm is ‘Living Wage’ pioneer

Dan Collinson with  another Collinson silo ready for dispatch
Dan Collinson with another Collinson silo ready for dispatch
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A Catterall company has proved to be a national trendsetter – by signing up to the Living Wage long before it ever featured in last week’s budget announcements.

Family firm Collinson is so proud of being a Living Wage employer it announces its commitment on its website.

The firm, which designs, engineers and delivers products in the agriculture, construction and renewables sectors, employs 130 people ranging from designers to shop floor staff and is hoping to recruit six more staff in the coming year.

Joint Managing Director Dan Collinson said: “We’ve always applied that sort of ethos. Collinson is a family firm. My grandad started the business.”

His brother Sam is also a company MD. Their parents, chairman Roger and director Freda, spent decades growing Collinson

Dan said: “Their ethos was always to pay what they considered a good wage, rather than saying what’s the minimum we can pay someone. We’ve been registered as a Living Wage employer since December 2012. We like the fact we are a Living Wage employer. It wasn’t a hard decision.”

As a family we’ve always been completely part of the team – we’re not locked away in an office.

Dan Collinson

He stressed it is “one of a range of values” which characterises the company, which has a good record for retaining staff: “If we’re a nice place to work people stay. As a family we’ve always been completely part of the team – we’re not locked away in an office.”

The firm is currently expanding with a new £1.5m research and design centre building currently under construction due to open its doors in October on the firm’s six acre site at the Riverside Industrial Park. Dan said: “It’s reinvestment and giving ourselves room to grow.”

The firm has expanded from providing 85 to 130 jobs over the last 18 months. But he admitted it has become hard to recruit locally - even when jobs can cover a range of skills and salaries in specialisms from administration and apprenticeships to top level design posts.

Of the company’s three areas of business its agricultural products amount to 70% of its output with Collinson cornering 65% of the UK market in silos.

Dan points out with pride that every component, bar the nuts and bolts, is manufactured on site. Rolls of sheet metal are stacked ready for cutting and use in the creation of the bespoke silos which can be ordered in the colour and size of customers’ choice.

The construction side accounts for 25% of the business with Collinson building sports halls for schools and communities - including a major hall on the Isle of Lewis and the new home of The Doctor Who Experience.

The baby of the business is the renewables sector, with Collinson investing in the design of a prototype wind mast which, at 37m tall, is the first of its size or type in the world. Dan explained they would test the prototype and then decide whether to take it to market. The firm also installs solar panels, as at nearby Barton Grange Garden Centre.

*The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK and is currently £7.85 an hour outside London. The current National Minimum Wage is £6.50 an hour for over 21s. Chancellor George Osborne announced a new national minimum “living wage” for over 25s of £7.20 an hour from April 2016, rising to £9.00 by 2020.