A Resurgent Devizes company that can trace its origins back six decades has invested £400,000 on a high-speed laser cutter that has become its pride and joy.
Kidd Farm Machinery was established by local inventor Archie Kidd in 1958 and has been through various incarnations before being relaunched under its current name two years ago.
Richard Burman, who was one of Mr Kidd’s original workforce, has returned as managing director and has overseen a renaissance, which has made it a company with an international reputation that sends more than a third of its product abroad.
Mr Burman said: “Less than two years ago the company relied on one customer, Kverneland, for 70 per cent of its sales. The customer base has been considerably widened and today the largest customer represents 15 per cent of sales.”
The 25-strong workforce at Kidd Farm Machinery’s 40,000 square foot base on Folly Road industrial estate in Devizes designs and manufactures a wide range of agricultural machinery.
Recently a new bale shredder took just seven weeks from the first designs on the drawing board to the final product coming off the factory floor.
Mr Burman said: “This business is all down to having the right people working for you and I was amazed when I came here two years ago to find such a range of skills among the workforce. I don’t think they realise how good they are.
“If you don’t have people you can rely on to pick up the ball and run with it, you’re lost.”
Mr Burman said the firm’s growth would inevitably lead to further employment.
Kidd Farm Machinery now exports to countries all over the world, including Japan, Russia, the United States, Canada and Italy, as well as this country.
The £400,000 investment in the new laser indicates the optimism with which the company views its future.
Production manager Kevin Aiston said: “We were working with a laser that was 19 years old and we needed something faster.
“We didn’t realise how fast the new one is. It is six times faster than what we’ve been working with and enables us to fulfil the orders we are now getting from all over the world.”
Kidd’s history has been chequered. It was acquired in 1977 by the Wolseley Group and was sold in 1991 to Danish firm Taarup, subsequently bought by Kverneland.
When Kverneland encountered financial problems in 2002, KFM was set up on the Kverneland site.
Then, in 2006, Omitec bought KFM and the Devizes plant and also acquired the rights to manufacture Kidd machinery.
Then finally, in 2011, Kidd Farm Machinery was formed.