Based near Belfast in Northern Ireland CCP Gransden has established itself as a leading specialist manufacturer of advanced composites. As of this month CCP Gransden can trace its history back an impressive 125+ years. Remarkably, it has stayed in family ownership since then.
In 1892, Augustus Warren Hamilton (‘Gussie’ to his friends) was a young Belfast engineer sailing the North Atlantic with the Ulster Steamship Company. In Miramichi, Canada, Gussie met Annie Harley and the pair quickly fell in love. However, the young couples’ families would not permit them to marry until Gussie had secured a more stable employment. Annie agreed to wait and spurred on to establish his financial security Gussie returned to Belfast and in 1894 borrowed money and founded ‘Hamilton and McMaster Engineering Co’ with a friend. At this time Belfast was the premier shipbuilding centre of the world and the firm took on engineering and ship repair work at the docks. After five years graft, Gussie had managed to pay off all debts in full plus interest and finally the couple were married in Belfast. The business continued to develop.
Things were not always so rosy. During the Great Depression, managerial staff took no salary to pay for materials. Men had to queue for any work they could get, and in some cases, this was for only one or two hours in a day. During both World Wars the business was listed as a key ‘reserve occupation’, narrowly surviving major fires in the Belfast Blitz. Despite employing over 400 extra labourers at this time the company could not claim any profits and then suffered a post war recession. During the Troubles, in the 1970’s, the company also faced difficult times, on one occasion debris from a nearby car bomb damaged the premises.
Core policies of upholding sound engineering and continuous innovation, have helped the company be adaptable through historical challenges, taking on a wide variety of interesting projects. The company diversified into plastics in the 1960’s establishing ‘Corrosion Control Plastics’ and was one of the first in the region to realise the opportunities with composites as the field developed. As the corrosion resistant plastics element of the business grew, the company name evolved with it. Corrosion control plastics led to the CCP acronym, with Gransden added when the firm acquired Gransden (BiChem). A linked spin out is CCP Gransden’s partner company Hamilton Erskine who manufacture ‘Tecdur’ blast and ballistic protection materials and are still based at the same location as CCP Gransden.
Recently, CCP Gransden have made several major technological investments, ensuring that today they operate one the UK’s largest selection of advanced composites manufacturing processes in-house.
What’s next for CCP Gransden? Managing Director Jim Erskine explains; “CCP Gransden aims to offer performance improvement through the intelligent use of Advanced Composites. Composites are complex and we like to work very collaboratively with our customers to identify the best solution. We have a wide range of advanced manufacturing processes available. With a focus on high quality, repeatable (automated), out of autoclave ‘snap cure thermosets or thermoplastic composites with overmoulding for the Aerospace, Automotive, or Defense sectors, we can assist with prototypes or full production up to 100,000 parts per year. Our future, we think, is as a highly flexible manufacturer working with a wide range of customers and our aim is to build on our reputation as an innovative producer of high-quality finished products.”
How can other businesses set themselves up to have such long histories? “Another characteristic at the heart of CCP Gransden’s success is its respectable image. CCP Gransden supports continuous improvement, investing in its people, supporting further study for several employees, and sponsoring charitable endeavours /local sports groups. Our employee retention is extremely high -we have employees who have been with us for over 35 years- our people really know what they are doing. The business actively tries to be understanding and support all employees as a dynamic team. This creates a positive feedback loop which supports our adaptable, innovative-driven culture, and which keeps customers coming back to CCP Gransden time and time again.”
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