A COMPANY manufacturing roof trusses is investing £100,000 in new equipment as responds to growing confidence in the housing market.

Sunderland's Fencehouse Truss Company is adding a 40-tonne press to its truss-making equipment and is creating additional jobs to operate the machinery. The fresh investment, just 18 months after the firm spent £70,000 on a smaller press, will radically increase its capacity.

The business was set up in a purpose-built factory at Houghton-le-Spring five years ago and has grown despite starting trading during one of the most difficult periods the construction industry has ever faced.

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Steve Harris, who runs Fencehouse Truss with co-directors Steven Brown and Steve Cauwood, said: “We haven’t known anything different to the recession. We built the factory from scratch and set up as the recession had started.

“But from our point of view, this is the best start of the year we’ve ever had. We started with three people and now we are up to 15. Despite the recession we have managed to grow steadily.”

Fencehouse Truss has manufactured roof trusses for house builders including Taylor Wimpey as well as working on major projects for Manchester and Birmingham Airports and hospice sites for Marie Curie Cancer Care. It is currently working on a large nursing home for Gentoo at Doxford Park.

The company is now targeting a £2m turnover for this year, which would see its sales increase by around 25 per cent compared to 2013.

Mr Harris said: “There has been a significant increase in work. There’s a lot more confidence  from  the housebuilders to build new schemes.

“We have taken on two new staff, with one eye on the arrival of the new press, so we can get them trained in the way we do things. We’ll probably take on another two or three people.”

The new press, due to arrive in April, pushes together the roof trusses – the wooden and metal framework that supports a building’s roof. Fencehouse Truss received advice and support from Sunderland City Council as it expanded, continuing a relationship which started even before the business was set up.

“It was initially a pipe dream,” said Mr Harris. “We sat down with Neil Clasper from the City Council about seven years ago and it took about two years from then to set up the factory. He was very helpful and pointed us in the right direction and we have developed a long standing relationship.

“I would advise businesses to consider Sunderland and get help from the council. The team has been very, very helpful to us.”

Councillor Harry Trueman, Deputy Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The Fencehouse Truss Company is a great example of a business that had a good idea and went for it, despite the huge problems the construction industry faced in the recession.