A new factory making wooden frames for zero carbon modular homes is aiming for sales topping £3 million in its first year.
The unit set up by Creating Enterprise at the former Travis Perkins depot in Cefndy Road, Rhyl, is providing work opportunities for young unemployed people via the Kickstart scheme.
The social enterprise, a subsidiary of housing association Cartrefi Conwy, is also looking to employ tenants who don’t have a job.
Creating Enterprise have invested £1 million in the project that’s also designed to play a key role in regenerating Rhyl’s West End.
As well as remodelling the 10,000 sq ft premises, they have installed an £80,000 machine to manufacture posi-joists for floor and roof structures.
The joists comprise a metal web sandwiched between two timber flanges through which cables and pipes can be threaded.
They are being used in Creating Enterprise’s own Passivhaus homes and are also being sold via Travis Perkins outlets in North Wales and direct to developers.
The factory, which has already created nine new jobs, has received funding from the Welsh Government and the National Lottery.
It’s part of Cartrefi Conwy’s strategy to build 1,000 homes with rock bottom energy bills and dovetails with the Welsh Government’s strategy to deliver affordable, energy efficient homes that tackle fuel poverty.
The beauty of the modular system is that in can be configured in different ways – ranging from a single story one-bedroom property to a two-storey, seven bedroom family houses.
Among the factory’s new employees is Kieron Nolan, 19, from Rhuddlan, who joined the team via the Kickstart scheme which provides six-month job placements for 16 to 25-year-olds
Kieron said: “It was frustrating being unemployed for six months before joining the Kickstart scheme and getting a job here.
“I’m very involved in everything, It’s not sit back and watch while they make it, it’s get involved and do it which I really enjoy because I’m a really practical person.
Factory operative Matt Hughes, 34, from Colwyn Bay, said: “I looked into Creating Enterprise before applying for the job and it was the ethos of the company that drew me to it.
“It’s nice to be on the ground floor so to speak because the potential of this factory is immense. It’s a pleasure to work here.”
Lowri Morris, 22, from Rhyl, who was educated just down the road at the Blessed Edward Jones School, was on her first day there after signing up for the Kickstart scheme.
She said: “It’s an amazing opportunity and I’m really happy to be here and everyone’s lovely so far. It’s a really good experience.”
Adrian Johnson, managing director of commercial services at Cartrefi Conwy, said: “We are running this factory as any other commercial business in collaboration with Travis Perkins our supply chain partner.
“Our core objective as a social enterprise is to create employment so we’ve bought in nine full time equivalent employees into this business already.
“We have essentially created a virtuous circle by building energy efficient homes that will help combat fuel poverty which is especially important at a time of soaring energy costs.
“We could be building up to 100 homes a year and then there’s opportunity for growth as well to go into other timber products including sheds and fencing.”
Andrew Bowden, the chief executive of Cartrefi Conwy, said: “This is a really exciting development and it’s fantastic to see new life being breathed into building that could have become redundant.
“We’re extremely keen to grow the business to support the work of the local authority, Denbighshire County Council, in regenerating this area.
“We’ve already got an order book in excess of 90 modular homes for local authorities and other housing associations.
“We also want to work in partnership with the developers and construction companies we work with across North Wales.
“Creating Enterprise is going from strength to strength and the schemes like this help us reinvest our profits for the benefit of our tenants.
“There is a certain magic about this factory, making a product that is required and creating much-need jobs for local people. We’re using the Welsh pound in the best possible way.”