Thursday, December 17, 2020

40 tips to survive 40 years in business

 A lot can happen in 40 years. From the creation of computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the fall of the Berlin Wall, to the first black President and a global pandemic, at Rochford Engineering, we’ve experienced it all. Perhaps an even bigger achievement for us, is that we have continued to work with major OEMs throughout the past four decades, providing wire forming, welding, fabrication, machining, presswork, thread rolling and screw cutting for a wide range of industries. We’ve learned a lot on this journey and as we look ahead to the next forty years, we wanted to share some of our experiences and tips for fellow small business owners.

  1. Stay ambitious – it’s what enabled us to grow our business, moving from a tiny premises to our current 5,000 sq ft premises
  2. Don’t be afraid to invest – because if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have realised our ambition
  3. Plans change, values shouldn’t
  4. Always deliver what you say you will or more, that’s how you build relationships
  5. Embrace new people and ideas
  6. Always treat your customers and suppliers in a way you’d treat your family
  7. Surround yourself with good people – our customers and suppliers helped us reach 40 years, not Rochford Engineering alone
  8. Keep learning – your education never ends
  9. Be opportunistic – it’s how we expanded our service range
  10. Don’t beat yourself up too much – success means different things to different people
  11. Manage yourself, lead your people
  12. Improvement and success do not happen in straight lines, nor should your mood
  13. When you think something is too difficult, keep going (this counts for pandemics too!)
  14. Your biggest weakness is refusing to accept you have one
  15. Your biggest strength is accepting your weakness
  16. If you run your business in good times, the way you run your business in bad times, you won’t need to worry as much about the bad times
  17. You need your customers and people more than they need you
  18. Celebrate small victories, they’re often more important than big ones
  19. Quality is more than a kite mark or certification
  20. Small customers are as important as larger ones
  21. An employee who feels valued is an employee who feels loyal
  22. Judge people by what they do, not who they are
  23. Keep asking why you do what you do – you’ll always find a different answer
  24. Look for the right attitude. You can teach skills, you can’t teach attitude
  25. Supply chains do not just exist to supply. Listen to their advice
  26. Sustainability means more than waste reduction
  27. Waste covers more than litter
  28. By building a diversified customer base, you create opportunities
  29. Technology is an enabler of a productive workforce, not a replacement for it
  30. Nobody wants to hear your problems, they want to hear your solutions
  31. The input of the best leaders is not missed when they’re not there
  32. Asking for help is not a weakness
  33. Great service does not end with customers
  34. Relationships bring results
  35. Influence is more important than authority
  36. Metal is never off trend
  37. You can step forward into growth or back into safety
  38. Doers are worth more than dreamers, but the best people are both
  39. You never fail, you only learn
  40. The next forty years are always the hardest!


We’d like to thank all our customers, suppliers and employees for a great 40 years and look forward to working with them throughout the next 40.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

What can I wire form?

Look at these…..


We created them using a technique that’s commonly referred to as ‘wire bending’ or, as the industry like to refer to it, ‘wire forming.’

Wire bending, as the name suggests, involves producing a variety of different shapes from metal, be it carbon steel, stainless steel or brass. The materials can be varied in diameter and any specification; the wire forming/bending parameters are incredibly vast.

Working within such extensive parameters means there’s very little that can’t be wire formed (it’s just that the time and level of attention that goes into creating each project varies, depending on the complexity of the brief).

The diameters, materials, specifications and briefs may vary, as does the type of equipment/method used. To enable us to achieve the highest quality end result we use a range of tools/tooling, from small tools, such as a V-Bend, for more intricate, hand-pressed creations, to larger tools, such as power press tooling, to producing eye hooks for example, but for most jobs, we use our hydraulic and mechanical bending machines, which enable us to form wires more cost effectively, as we don’t have to factor in the added cost of tooling.

So, that’s a top-level overview of the practicalities of wire forming, now let’s take a quick look at what this popular metalwork technique can be used for (tip – pretty much anything!)

We’ve wire formed:

·         Aeroplane magazine pockets
·         Boxing ring rings
·         Hose guides
·         Stools
·         Chairs
·         Tables
·         Paint jigs
·         Hangers
·         Cabin hooks
·         Ceiling supports
·         Handles
·         Railings
·         Cooker grill wires

We have even made an England flag which we put outside our factory unit in support of our teams for last year’s FIFA World Cup and again for the FIFA Women’s World Cup and Ruby World Cup this year. And here it is:

If it’s metal, we can wire form it, and we often do for the automotive, leisure, architectural and garden industries. But don’t just take our word for it, get in touch with us to discuss your wire forming requirements with us. You can reach us on or 0121 773 0465.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

We’ve spent 40 years in the automotive fast lane – and there’s no slowing us down

We work with customers sector-wide, but it’s our relationships within the automotive industry that’s fuelling our engine.

When we first started out, we mainly supplied JCB with various wire-formed components and pressings for their earth-moving equipment.

Almost 40 years later, we’re still working with JCB. As one of their Preferred Suppliers, we provide welded fabrications and wire-formed and machined products for their backhoe, earthmoving, digger and service divisions.

In the meantime, we’ve made multiple inroads elsewhere across the automotive industry too.

80% of our work is for the automotive sector

When our team of engineers aren’t producing hundreds of components for JCB, they’re working with Tier One automotive suppliers who work with some of the most established and luxurious brands around.

They can (and often do) count on us to consistently meet their welded fabrication needs. From laser cut plates and bent bars, to straight bars, tube and stillage cages, which we’ve been manufacturing for almost a decade.

Meanwhile, a lot of our time is spent machining components for much larger projects, such as digger parts for JCB. You’ll also find us wire-forming components, such as wires for paint jigs, and machine turning parts, such as sleeves and bushes for bearings. But that isn’t everything – it’s a tiny snapshot of what a typical day involves for our talented team.

Many of our automotive customers also come to us for our MIG and TIG welding capabilities – we can weld stainless and mild steel and aluminium with a plated or powder-coated finish.

Driving quality results

Like most businesses who’ve been established for as long as we have, our people and processes have evolved over the years as we’ve honed our services and skills. However, our unfaltering commitment to quality has always remained.

Everything we do, all of our outputs, are underpinned by our ISO-accredited quality management system (ISO 9001 2015). This involves monitoring and mapping every element of our work, from initial enquiry through to procurement of the highest quality materials and delivery of the final product. On top of this, we regularly inspect and maintain our machinery so that it operates at optimum performance. We also regularly train our staff so that they continue to be the best in the industry.

This approach, which is integral to the way we work, makes sure everything we produce is of the highest quality and in line with our industry regulations, as well as our customers’ own industry standards. For instance, we make sure that all of the components we produce for JCB are in line with their own standards system, which covers everything, from the grade of the material we use, to the weld and finish spec.

It’s this commitment to quality that enables us to turn our work around quickly. For example, we can deliver a wired, machined or welded assembly project involving around 50 parts within just four days, from initial enquiry to delivery.

We really do pride ourselves on meeting our customers’ deadlines and, if required, will work overtime to meet them. We’re also more than happy to switch our production schedules around so that they work alongside customers’ lead times.

"We needed some high quality machined and fabricated products on a project for a major supermarket. Rochford made everything so easy delivering everything on time and to our budget. It has been a pleasure to continue working with them ever since. Keep up the good work"
Mark McCleary - Operations Director - Berrys Technologies Ltd

Our roots are firmly embedded within the automotive world. From the very first days of solely working with JCB, to every day since then that we’ve accelerated our insight and industry-leading results for our extensive automotive sector customer base.

For more information or to discuss your metal forming requirements with us, call us on 0121 773 0465 or Alternatively, for more information about our services, visit

Thursday, August 15, 2019

We’re a family engineering business that’s fuelling the Midlands manufacturing engineer

The Midlands’ manufacturing industry has come a long way, from producing Spitfires and trailblazing motor manufacturing, to embracing the digital revolution, there’s so much to be proud of.

While the region’s manufacturing scene may have changed just as much as the Midlands skyline over the centuries, one thing still holds true – family-run SMEs are the lifeblood of the manufacturing supply chain, providing the vital link between larger companies at the raw materials stage and the final manufacturing and sales process.

And we’re one of them.

We first started off life almost 40 years ago, back in 1981

Engineer, Tom Butler, was made redundant from his role as works manager at Colgrip so decided to set up his own business, with Archie Wilson, who already had his own company.

Our first premises were on Glover Street in Birmingham and were so small they were little more than a hole in the ground. Tom and Archie, who had decided to wrap up his company so that he could 100% focus on the new venture, worked in the factory, alongside with two other employees. They offered two services - bending 8mm materials and welded assemblies.

Of course, that was a while ago now and both Tom and Archie are no longer a part of the business today. And we are no longer based in a ‘hole in the ground’, but in modern 5,000sq ft premises at the Stirchley Trading Estate, which we have plans to expand in the future.

We’ve changed a lot since 1981

But are extremely proud of the fact Tom’s and Archie’s legacy very much lives on. While Archie sold his share some 20 years ago, Tom handed his over to his children, Tracy and Mark, who are the current directors of Rochford Engineering.

From the outset, the business has very much been a family affair, with three generations so far playing their part in shaping and delivering what we’ve come to be renowned for – delivering quality and excellence in metal. Here’s a quick plotted history of the family connections and how they run through the business:

1ST generation
Tom Butler – Founder and Director.
Margaret Butler (Tom’s wife) – Director.

2nd generation
Mark Butler – (Tom’s son) – Director – started working for Rochford in the factory in 1982.
Tracy Rushton (Tom’s daughter) – Director – Started working for Rochford in the office in 1997.

3rd generation
Stewart Lowe (Mark’s son-in-law) – Account Manager – started working for Rochford in the factory in 2008.
Jack Webb (Tracy’s son) – Assistant – started work for Rochford in the office earlier this year.

Looking to the future and remembering our roots

Our family connections are one of our core strengths. The older generations set the scene in many ways, sharing with us how they worked, which has instilled a culture of quality and getting things right first time around, that’s now instinctive to us.

Meanwhile, the younger generations have brought new, innovative ideas with them, which has enabled us to move with the times and drive the company forward with a fresh energy and drive.

Long-standing relationships

Our strong heritage has enabled us to carve a name for ourselves within the Midlands’ manufacturing scene, as well as establish long-standing relationships with many of our customers, who know us ‘from old.’

And while we may have evolved, continuously reviewing and refining many of our systems and processes so they are up to speed with modern day requirements, our wire forming, welding, machining, presswork, thread rolling, screw cutting and garden architecture services are to the same Rochford standards that our customers know and trust.

Being a family-run SME in the Midlands has paid dividends for us and our many customers who we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the last (almost) four decades. It’s provided us with the flexibility to efficiently and effectively work with our customers and suppliers; adapting our services to every brief we work on, while giving us the foundation and confidence to fly the Midlands manufacturing flag for another 40 years and more.

Friday, August 9, 2019

An expert’s guide to working with metal

You’ll know from our previous articles that metals are our thing. As specialists in wire forming, welding, fabrication, machining, presswork, thread rolling and screw cutting, there’s not much we can’t do or don’t know about metal.

Day in, day out we work with a wide range of metals, but on the whole, we mainly tend to work with stainless steels, mild steels, brass and aluminium.

And while none of these materials present any particular problems for us when we process them, it’s always best practice to take note of their properties, which we’ve summed up below:

Stainless steels

We work with up to 15mm diameter stainless steel and carry out presswork with this particular metal, using presses that weigh up to 40 tonnes.

Stainless steels are becoming increasingly popular due to their attractive appearance, corrosion resistance, low maintenance and strength. But for all of their benefits, they are more expensive than mild steels. However, when considered from a longer-term perspective, they can be more economically-viable once service life and lifecycle costs have been factored in.

All stainless steels contain various amounts of chromium, which gives them their attractive, bright finish. The chromium in the alloy forms a self-healing protective clear oxide layer that makes stainless steels corrosion-resistant.

The self-healing nature of the oxide layer means the corrosion resistance remains intact, regardless of fabrication methods. Even if the material surface is cut or damaged, it will self-heal and corrosion resistance will be maintained for many years.

Although the corrosion resistance of stainless steels comes from the presence of chromium, other elements are also added to enhance other properties, such as nickel, copper, titanium and molybdenum, for instance. These additions can make the steel suited to high temperature applications and increase corrosion resistance. As a result, stainless steels have a huge variety of uses, ranging from surgical equipment, domestic equipment, automotive parts and heat exchangers, to many architectural applications.

Mild steels

Mild steels are made up of iron and carbon and are one of the most commonly-used construction materials.

Known as mild steels because of their relatively low carbon content, this metal is very strong and can be made from readily-available natural materials. There are a variety of mild steels, depending on the content, and alloying elements besides carbon that give them certain desirable mechanical properties.

We often work with up to 16mm diameter mild steel wire and carry out presswork using presses weighing up to 40 tonnes. Of all the metals we work with, mild steels are one of the easiest materials to weld.

Mild steels are easier to work with because they’re quite malleable and are cheaper than stainless steels. And they’re very versatile, strong, cost effective and easy to manufacture, thanks to their low carbon content. As such, they’re extensively used in the construction industry and for machined parts, pipelines and many other applications.


This is a material we tend to work with every now and again. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, in proportions that can be varied to achieve different mechanical and electrical properties.

It's an ideal alloy for transporting water through pipes and fittings and also lends itself well to marine engines and pump parts. It therefore shouldn’t come as any surprise that one of the first commercial uses of brass was on naval ships. 

For more information or to discuss your metal forming requirements with us, contact us on or 0121 773 0465.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Why we didn’t take a back seat with our latest designer bar stool brief

While the vast majority of our time (80%) is spent wire-forming, welding and machining for automotive sector projects, there’s another part of our business that keeps us incredibly busy too.

One minute we’re laser cutting and welding bars for a car chassis, the next, we’re working on a 6mm mild steel box section stillage for a supermarket warehouse. And then, in between all that, we’re fabricating stainless steel benches for a garden centre or a suite of bespoke seats for an interior designer that are destined for a trendy new restaurant.

The projects we work on really are that diverse

And while most people may think the automotive and garden architecture/interior design world couldn’t be more different, they’re actually remarkably similar to us.

Automotive, interior design, the projects still require the same attention to detail, precision accuracy and quality execution and finish. And they’re all just as challenging.

In fact, in some circumstances, our garden architecture/interior design briefs can test us more than some of our other projects, especially when they push the architectural boundaries.

But fortunately for us, we have the benefit of 40+ years to tap into, which enables us to deliver on the most complex of projects.

A case in point…

We were recently asked to fabricate the bases for these eight designer bar stools for a leading contract furniture supplier.

They look great, don’t they? And the project itself sounds like a relatively straightforward job, right?
Wrong, when we initially took on this particular project, we were immediately presented with a fundamental issue:

The bases weren’t strong enough to hold the weight of a person – meaning they simply wouldn’t have been functional in reality.

Our managing director, production manager and accounts manager, worked closely together to overcome the issues effectively and efficiently. And this is the approach they took:

They recommended how the metal should be cut and bent so that the bases would distribute weight evenly. They also advised on using 8mm, instead of 6mm, mild steel, to guarantee the bases would be strong enough for people to sit on without breaking over time. Armed with our insight, our customer then refined their design plans and we manufactured the bases, safe in the knowledge that the final product was 100% right for the requirements. 

While these stools may have tested us to a certain degree, they were no match for our unrivalled metal fabrication insight or skills. Rather than just simply following the brief and providing the customer with something that simply didn’t work, we manufactured a set of stools that are fit for purpose and have been designed to last.

Are you a garden centre/supplier, architect or interior designer with a metal fabrication project you’d like us to turn into reality? Straightforward or complex, we can help. To discuss your requirements with us, contact us on 0121 773 0465 or

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Rochford Engineering does their first ever exhibition

Rochford Engineering completed their first ever exhibition in June exhibiting at the Made in the Midlands Expo at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
The show is an annual one-day event and is now in its 10th year. With over 260 exhibitors it is popular with industry leaders with over 2500 of them attending looking to speak with customers, suppliers and see what is on offer by companies based in the midlands.
At the expo the stand was very busy with lots of people finding out more about what do. On the stand we showed examples of some our small welded assemblies and machined parts and had a portfolio of other work which was too large for the stand such as our Stillages, Garden Arches, Bespoke Designer Stools and surrounds for lounge chairs.
“Showing people who we are and what we do has been extremely positive for us” said Mark Butler, Director of Rochford Engineering “It has allowed us to make connections we wouldn’t have been able to ordinarily and as Rochford expands into new markets this will be very helpful to us and our customers”

Mark added “We also want to thank everyone who attended the show and visited us on the stand – it made it a great show and we can’t wait to do the next one”
Got any questions or want to find out more? Contact us on 0121 773 0465 or  Alternatively, for more information about all our services, visit