KASL Engineering Group, the parent company of Ardmore Craig, is powering ahead with exciting growth plans – guided by an experienced new operations director.
Since 2020, KASL Engineering Group MD Mike Styan has acquired four businesses for his North-East and Scotland-based organisation: KASL Precision Engineering in Houghton-le-Spring, Teesside-based design consultancy Ardmore Craig, Washington’s Impress Precision Machining and, most recently, Aberdeenshire-based fabricators Weld-Tech Services.
The acquisitions were part of Mike’s “buy and build” strategy, aiming to forge a group of engineering companies with complementary offerings – effectively a ‘one stop shop’ for clients in terms of project capabilities.
It means that along with supporting its blue-chip customers with its precision machined parts offering, it now also provides full turn-key options for larger projects, including project management, detail design, structural analysis, fabrication, and assembly.
Mike, 43, a Middlesbrough-born mechanical engineer with vast experience and a proven track record in the engineering sector, said: “I’ve looked at many businesses over the last three years and have only proceeded with those that I felt I could add value from day one, I’ve looked at over 30 and I’m delighted with the four we’ve got over the line.
“We’ve taken our time to get the right deals, any company that comes into our group benefits straight away from the structure in terms of systems, processes, and centralised costs – as well as the experience and contacts we have at board level.
“We’re currently in the process of linking these four businesses so they’re all working in synergy and we’re now executing projects across the group where all four companies are working together at different stages of the process. We’ve developed an excellent reporting structure and it’s really starting to pay dividends.”
Helping drive the group forward is newly-appointed group operations director Steve Dale. Having started his engineering career as an apprentice at Ash & Lacy Perforators in Smethwick, West Midlands, Steve has amassed decades of engineering, leadership, and executive experience across various industry sectors, including automotive, aerospace and defence.
His career includes a 14-year stint at South Shields company Ford Components, where he was group operations manager and “fell in love with the North-East”, before he returned to the Midlands to be managing director of a group of engineering companies.
When the chance came to join KASL Engineering Group earlier this year, it was the perfect fit.
Steve said: “Professionally, this move has given me the opportunity I’m craving. I’m 57 and there is nobody with more enthusiasm and drive than me.
“I’m genuinely excited to be joining the team relatively early into its journey.”
The group is approaching 100 staff and is planning to establish its main base at the KASL Precision Engineering site at Commerce Way in Houghton-le-Spring.
Part of that move will see design specialists Ardmore Craig relocate to the new headquarters from Middlesbrough.
And with four companies already on board, others could follow quickly.
Mike explained: “We’re on the lookout for more acquisitions but we’re not just buying companies haphazardly.
“Ideally, we could add one or possibly two more by the end of 2023, but they must be the right fit in terms of adding something to the group that we don’t already have.
“Steve coming in will naturally help with that selection process.”
Steve, who has an HND in Mechanical Engineering as well as degree level qualifications in health and safety, and operational management and leadership, has also been tasked with helping KASL break into new engineering sectors, a task that he says he is relishing.
And he says he can’t wait to see what’s next in store for a group which, he says “now genuinely offers a full turn-key package”.
He said: “Our goal is to make the KASL Engineering Group as large as it can possibly be in terms of turnover and headcount – but we’ll endeavour to grow by operating with the integrity needed to build something that is truly sustainable.
“Integrity, morals, and honesty, not only with our employees but with our suppliers and customers – are paramount.
“When I met Mike and his management team, it was clear that we were all aligned in terms of these values – which was a huge pull for me.”