Sheffield woodturning manufacturer Robert Sorby recently refreshed its look after a move to a state-of-the-art new facility. While the firm was modernising its operations, the team didn’t want to lose its almost 200-year history. UnLTD’s Chris Coates found out how they did it.

Established in 1828, Robert Sorby has been a staple of Sheffield manufacturing for almost 200 years. The company is one of the world’s premier manufacturers of specialist woodworking tools and has developed a global reputation for manufacturing some of the finest woodworking equipment available.

In its 194-year history, Robert Sorby has been based at several sites around the city. Earlier this year the company took the bold step of relocating to a modern facility on Atlas Way at Brightside. The move came alongside investment in new machinery, refreshing work processes and improving the working environment.

Alongside this, the new premises also presented an opportunity to refresh Robert Sorby’s marketing materials. With such a rich history, this was a delicate task and one which had to be carefully considered. How can you modernise the look of the business while retaining the proud history and tradition it has built up over almost two centuries?

To make sure the right balance was struck, Robert Sorby enlisted the help of the Backroom Agency, a Sheffield design and branding agency which has worked with a range of manufacturers on similar projects. Their experience within the industry capturing both photography and moving footage of the old factory and master craftsmen before the relocation was crucial.

Joanne Dyson, marketing manager at Robert Sorby said: “I have worked with the Backroom Agency in a previous job, so I knew the standard of work they could produce and the fact they have worked with a range of manufacturers in the past made them the perfect fit for the job.”

To capture the history of Robert Sorby, the Backroom Agency were commissioned to produce a two-and-a-half-minute ‘Day in the Life’ video giving an insight into the manufacturing processes Robert Sorby woodworking tools are renowned for.

Combining the traditional processes which are still done by hand, with modern robotic equipment, the video captures the way Robert Sorby is blending 21st-century methods of manufacturing with centuries-old crafting methods. On the recommendation of Backroom co-founders Andrew Brown and Stephen Delaney, the craftsmen take centre stage, with one of the team even voicing the script to maximise its authenticity.

Joanne said: “The guys spent four days filming at the old factory, and the attention to detail they showed when getting the footage is undoubtedly reflected in the quality of the final video. We are absolutely thrilled with what has been produced.”

Alongside the video, the Backroom Agency are working with Robert Sorby to produce a new website and product catalogue, both set to be launched soon. The next stage will be to focus on the new facility and how the production processes will help Robert Sorby develop and improve productivity in the years to come.

Joanne said: “We firmly consider Andrew and Stephen to be an extension of our team. They have immersed themselves in our business to capture the content for all our future marketing material. Their attention to detail from the start has played a big part in the standard of the work they are currently putting together.

“What we have done so far is just the starting point for the work we have planned with  the Backroom over the coming months. I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone needing support to refresh their marketing materials, especially in the case of companies like Robert Sorby where the process must be done with care.”