A FAMILY-run engineering company which is celebrating its 30th year in business is gearing up for the future.
Fabrication specialist Patera Engineering was founded by Chris Lees in 1988 after he was made redundant from his previous job.
Patera started life operating from a small factory in Longton with Chris and his apprentice. Three decades on, it has outgrown five factory sites and today boasts a 54-strong workforce at the City Park Trading Estate, in Fenton.
The company is run by Chris and his son Shaun, who joined the business as a teenager.
Operations director Chris said: “I had no choice but to start my own company back then. It was the recession and I couldn’t get regular work.
“It has been difficult at times and it’s been hard work. There were a few years when the business stagnated, but now we are in a good position and that’s because we have a good, skilled team of staff.”
Patera Engineering manufactures and installs bespoke items including steel structures, balustrades and staircases to some of the most challenging structural and architectural schemes across the UK, including hospitals, prisons and airports.
Now the company is entering The Sentinel Business Awards, in the Small Business of the Year category, sponsored by Beswicks Legal.
Chris said: “We have never been able to stick to a business plan or prepare a forecast because we just don’t know what will happen. If our customers are busy, it means we are busy.
“But what we can do is have the foresight to know that we can rise to a challenge and know what we are capable of. To be ready for that we need to invest in decent people and a decent warehouse.”
Shaun, managing director at Patera, said: “The business is so strong at the moment and that’s down to the fact that we’ve taken the time to lay the foundations and be ready for growth.”
Over the next 12 months Patera plans to invest in revolutionary robotics equipment as part of a pilot scheme to introduce innovation into the construction industry.
Shaun added: “The engineering industry is changing all the time, so we need to look at things like robotics. We don’t want to replace people, this will be in addition.
“We need to look at new and innovative ways of working to help us grow and prepare for further growth in the future.”
Shaun’s 19-year-old son Callum, who is Patera’s compliance manager, added: “I joined the company when I was about 16. I was ready to go to college and I was just doing it as a summer job at first, but I loved it so I decided to stay. In the few years that I have been here the growth just hasn’t stopped. When I started in 2014 there were about 15 staff. Now we have over 50 people – we’re expanding all the time.”