A forward-looking steel business is being propelled to the heart of the 21st Century rebirth of the industry thanks to expert support and a £400,000 grant from the Sheffield City Region Growth Hub.

The Growth Hub backing is helping high-value metals specialist, Pro–Roll, based in Sheffield, expand as one of the UK’s leading suppliers of bespoke alloys for the aerospace, civil, nuclear, motorsport and bio-medical industries.

Alexa Greaves, Chair of the Growth Hub Board, said: “Innovation is a key priority for growth in the City Region, and we could see that the Business Investment Fund backing would be a perfect catalyst for Pro-Roll. The grant has helped them increase production, saved and created jobs, and means that the company can be among the leaders of the steel industry of the future.”

Quality and service, alongside the ability to have a flexible production model, were key principles for husband and wife team Symon and Gill Havenhand when they established the business in 2000.

Symon had seen that low-volume specialist products were the way ahead and he wanted Pro-Roll to produce bespoke, high-value metals in ingot and billet form.

The Havenhands found the perfect premises for expansion at the historic Pluto Works in Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield, and the grant enabled Pro-Roll to buy melting equipment to begin development work. Thanks to expansion, Pro-Roll has created five new posts, with a target of a further 20.

Symon and Gill worked with the Growth Hub’s Business Growth Specialist Jo Flanagan to demonstrate a strong business case and apply for the grant which complemented the funding package provided by Craig Gray and his team at NatWest and Lombard.

Symon said: “We couldn’t have done it without the help from the Growth Hub and Jo, and the financial assistance through the Sheffield City Region and NatWest made a very complex ambition come true.

“Major consumers such as shipbuilders have gone abroad, and they have developed their own mass steel production in other countries.

“We are left with the high value requirements for aerospace and the nuclear and medical industries. We have the quality as long as we keep ahead in terms of research and development. As I see it, people will always want to fly, and to go in for motorsport; they’ll always need surgical implants  – and those sectors all demand the highly-sophisticated metals we produce.

“When I first realised that, it gave me the impetus to further develop special metals production to high standards. We have a strong research and development ethos at Pro-Roll and we are constantly looking at the special metal materials the industries of the future require.

“We’re also utterly committed to providing high quality in all we do; we’ve invested in the technology that enables us to check and re-check at every stage that we are meeting the most demanding requirements of our clients, many of whom are global names and world leaders.

“A large part of the success of this new site is down to our staff, including retained staff from the acquired site – they are highly skilled and have a high degree of expertise.”

Gill added: “There is something about working with metal that gets into your psyche. We are all passionate about keeping this industry and skills alive. We are the custodians of the heritage of metal in Sheffield, the steel city.”