ONLY six months after three North-East engineers put their life savings into setting up a business the fledgling firm has hit its three-year business target.

Former workmates David Dean, Roger Metcalfe and Russell Coates, left the security of well-paid jobs to establish Teesside Precision Engineering (TPE), buying the building and some assets formerly owned by Campbell Machine Company, which went into liquidation in April last year.

Amid a gloomy period for the manufacturing sector, the trio’s combined knowledge of the industry and ambitious business plan helped secure a £95,000 Grant for Business Investment from regional development agency One North East, with additional support coming from Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, Business Link and the Natwest Bank.

The confidence shown by their backers has already paid dividends as the precision engineering business has secured 64 customers including blue-chip firms such as JCB and Caterpillar, and added four apprentices to its 21- strong workforce. Initial projections that they would achieve a first year turnover of £700,000 have been revised upwards to about £1.5m.

David Dean outlined some of the reasons behind their success when he said: “It was a calculated risk. Between the three of us we have more than 60 years experience in the industry, but setting up your own firm is a world away from the comfort zone of being employed by a company.

“We had good contacts but we also invested in sales and marketing which has been a key factor in us going from strength to strength in such a short space of time.

We’re still growing and hope to be taking on more staff next year.”

The firm, based in Skipper’s Lane, Middlesbrough, has built a national and international reputation for its machining, welding and fabrication services and in June was awarded the ISO9001 quality standard, which acknowledges the operation is meeting the highest standards.

A recent investment in machinery has enhanced the firm’s capability and helped win orders in the oil and gas and renewable energy sectors. Mr Metcalfe added: “We began in February with no staff and an empty order book after investing our life savings.

“People were still talking about the recession but we had an inkling that things were about to improve.

“Six months down the line we are debt-free and have the capacity for further expansion. It’s early days but we are delighted with the progress being made.”