Despite the uncertainty that has featured in the national economy in the past two years of Brexit limbo, specialist engineering design and manufacturing company Chelker Technology is growing from strength to strength.
Celebrating its 15th birthday this year, the firm is also a finalist in the Skipton Business Awards, flexing its muscles in the Best Manufacturing category.
Founder, Neil Kernot, started the family run business from home before taking on office premises in 2006, initially with just two employees. Chelker survived the recession and has continued to grow organically, taking on additional floor space in the Swadford Street building in the centre of Skipton, a small North Yorkshire market town. The firm currently employs seven engineers alongside the two directors and, with expansion plans underway, is scheduled to grow to 12-15 staff in the next 12 months.
The firm helps customers across the UK and Europe with both innovation and automation, providing a service specialising in the design and development of new products and enhancing existing production processes.
Progressing initial concepts through to creating prototypes and facilitating them into production, Chelker helps its clients to enter new markets, exceed their competitors or pioneer new inventions. The team works alongside customers’ in-house design departments or can act as their design department.
Chelker’s skilled staff are undoubtedly the firm’s greatest asset, and it is the strength of its engineering team which sets the company apart from many other suppliers in the design and development sector in the UK.
Good engineers are in short supply; so Chelker seeks to identify and foster new talent, often employing fresh graduates of high calibre and spending time building their experience levels with hands-on challenges. The varied work for diverse customers provides a great range of projects for sparking creative initiative. Chelker enhances the experience with ongoing specialist training, especially in tools such as CAD, and FEA, but also control systems, robotics and softer skills such as leadership and project management.
The UK gender balance in engineering and manufacturing remains embarrassingly poor so Neil Kernot is keen to foster equality at Chelker. He recruited Latvian, Lasma Smiukse in December and has local grammar school student Kaitlin Wilkinson starting an engineering apprenticeship next year.
Neil said, “Admittedly, historically it‘s been hard to recruit women, but given that there is a shortage of engineers generally, it’s even more important that we encourage smart women to join the profession. It is an exciting, rewarding and creative career and I support any strategies that actively encourage and enable more women into engineering.”