Digital Innovation Grant helps family-run joinery business nail growth ambitions

20 Jul 2022

Lee Crookes, Director, Crookes & Son Traditional Joinery

A family-run joinery business, which carved out a niche restoring and conserving some of Sheffield’s best known historical buildings, has boosted its production capacity by over 40% after securing grant funding from the South Yorkshire Digital Innovation Grant scheme.

Built on traditional skills that can take more than a decade to learn, the company has successfully breathed new life into historical buildings from pubs to stately homes, as well as offering an eco-friendly alternative to uPVC double glazing. With rising demand for their wooden framed double-glazed windows, Lee and Robert recognised that they needed to embrace new forms of technology in order to fulfil their growing order book.

Working with Business Sheffield, they successfully secured grant funding, enabling it to invest in a programmable CNC tenon machine, to create the traditional mortice and tenon joints used in their work. With funds secured to purchase the machine, the company then successfully secured a Digital Innovation Grant, which was used to purchase the software needed to automate the production process.

With this investment, Lee and Robert have increased production by more than 40% as well as reducing waste. Such has been the success of the new machinery that the company is planning to make further investments in additional machines, as well as recruiting new apprentices to pass on the skills that have been handed down from father to son.

Lee Crookes, Director, Crookes & Son Traditional Joinery, said:

“Specialist equipment can be a significant business investment, and as a small family-run business, we knew that although purchasing the mortice and tenon machine would help us to increase our levels of production, to make the most of the machine we would also need to invest in the CNC software, which would automate many of the processes we previously did by hand. We spoke to Business Sheffield, who told us about the Digital Innovation Grant scheme, and with funds in place it transformed our business almost overnight.

Before meeting Andy, I’d been applying to grants like this for five years, but no matter where I applied I kept hitting brick walls. Andy kept me on track with exactly what to fill in when, so I could keep my focus on my business. Without his help, we wouldn’t have been able to do it. We’ll keep working with Andy as we invest in further machinery and update more areas of the business.”

Andy Sorsby, Business Advisor, Business Sheffield, said:

“I’ve worked with Crookes & Son for some time now; they recognised that the software needed to drive their new mortice and tenon machine would be transformative for their business. The support they’ve received has not only helped the company to significantly increase productivity but also create opportunities for the next generation.”

The Digital Innovation Grant scheme was launched in July 2021 and helps SME businesses across South Yorkshire to access match-funded grants to help them embrace new ways of working to improve productivity and growth and enter new markets.

The programme funds up to 50% of projects with costs totalling £2,000-£10,000. It is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and is delivered across South Yorkshire by Enterprising Barnsley, part of Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

It is an ERDF funded project and Barnsley MBC are the accountable body. For more information, please visit the Enterprising Barnsley website.