A BUSINESS based in Stonehouse is giving itself a bumper 40th birthday present of £600,000.

DKM Sheetmetal, which employs 45 people at its Oldends Industrial Estate base, started with just six staff in 1979 and has grown from occupying just one of the units at Oldends into one that currently needs 10 – and it’s not finished yet.

To celebrate its landmark anniversary, the company is taking its investment in new machinery to in excess of £2million in the last two years, by splashing out £600,000 on new automation equipment and technology that will allow it to work faster and continuously over a 24-hour cycle.

And it is planning to add to its workforce too.

For the past three years DKM has taken on manufacturing apprentices and expects to appoint new staff in the coming year to help with its 24-hour production.

“We have grown from 3,000 square feet and six staff to our current site of 30,000 square feet and 45 employees,” said managing director Steve Hearn. “We run 24 hour shifts now and our turnover is around £5 million. We are a very different company.

“If you say DKM to many buyers and former employees they will just think of Unit Nine where we started out. Well, now we have units one to nine.”

Mr Hearn led DKM’s transformation after being part of a buy-out of the company from its previous owners in 2004. He works closely with co-owner Guy Goring, whose initial investment – as well as his ongoing support – was key to the transformation.

They now work with companies such as Vodafone, and BT with whom they designed a cabinet to ensure 4G mobile coverage could be rolled out in rural areas,

And while investment has been key, Mr Hearn said that the successes of the last 40 years are down to the people the company employs.

Their talent and a forward-thinking investment strategy has turned the company from a loss-maker into one that can now service multi-million pound clients.

Mr Hearn said: “We pride ourselves on encouraging fresh new ideas and talent, as well as nurturing time served craftsmanship."

Time and effort has been spent on appearances too, in branding and the website.

Steve’s son, Sam Hearn, joined his dad three years ago after finishing his university studies and helped with the refresh – down to cleaning the factory units.

Steve said: “A lot of people perceive fabrication companies to be dark black steel and dirty – we couldn’t be further away from that.”