Precision Engineering specialists

Historic manufacturer has the tools to grow

August 8, 2022

One of the North East’s longest-standing family-owned manufacturers is celebrating its 165th anniversary in style, after investing in a suite of state-of-the-art machinery as it looks to diversify and grow.

Hartlepool-based JJ Hardy & Sons was founded in 1856 by John James Hardy before being bought out by Ald. T.H. Pailor, the grandfather of the company’s current owner and managing director, Andrew Pailor.

Originally set up to support local traders and seafarers, the company has since transitioned from local brass founders and finishers to a team of expert CNC machinists supplying precision components and parts to customers across the UK.

The company – like manufacturers across the globe – found itself bearing the brunt of rising raw material and energy costs and part shortages during the pandemic, however having already survived two world wars, 1920s depression and the more recent banking crisis, Andrew and the team showed true brass to steer the business through the latest challenge in the company’s colourful history and to re-emerge from the pandemic on the strongest possible footing.

“My family have been involved in this business for three generations and have guided it through incredibly dark times,” Andy said. “However, even when our backs have been against the wall the most, our determination and grit has helped pull us through and bounce back from every single setback we’ve faced.

“From raising money during the first and second world wars to fund the war efforts, to producing parts for ships and arms, we’ve risen to every challenge thrown at us and as a true UK manufacturer, we’re proud of our heritage and to be still here today, investing in the North East and continuing to grow.”

Following a visit to Japan in the mid 1970s, Andrew’s father, Tom, became one of the first people in the UK to invest in a CNC Turning machine, which has since gone on to become one of the most revolutionary machining processes in manufacturing, utilising computerised controls to manage the movement and operation of cutting tools.

This commitment to innovation and ensuring JJ Hardy & Sons remains at the cutting edge of precision engineering has been passed down through the generations. While orders slowed slightly during the pandemic, Andrew – like his father before him – took the opportunity to plan for the future and begin writing the next chapter in the company’s history.

After tapping into support from the Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing (SAM) Project at the University of Sunderland, the company invested a cutting-edge Mazak QTE-200 SG CNC turning machine and a Ultimaker S5 3D printer, allowing it to ramp up productivity, slash production costs and diversify its product offering.

Andrew added: “The new machinery we’ve purchased represents a significant investment for the company and will be key to not only sustaining our future for another generation, but for nurturing the next generation of talent that comes through the business as we continue to invest in the region.

“Both the new CNC machine from Mazak and the Ultimaker 3D printer will help us provide an even better service to our clients, running low-cost machines on lights out production and expanding the services we offer. For example, in the few months since we purchased the 3D printer, we have produced pattern making equipment for the casting industry and reverse engineered plastic components for the rail industry, it’s really opened doors for us.”

Surviving the pandemic proved not only a key milestone for the business, but also for the Pailor family. As the company celebrates its 165th anniversary last year, it will also mark 83 years since Andrew’s grandfather led a buy-out of the company and will mean the Pailor family have now owned the company longer than its founding Hardy family.

“There were times during the pandemic when I honestly thought there was a real possibility that we wouldn’t survive the crisis,” Andrew continued. “But in true JJ Hardy fashion, we pulled through.

“We saw some of our biggest customers return to us and our hard working staff really helped us battle back. We’re now looking ahead with a positive outlook, with our new machinery hopefully helping us to grow our turnover 15% this year and continuing to invest in our operations. It’s an exciting time for everyone involved with the business.”