Hawick blacksmith’s hoping to build on new deal to expand

Gary Callachan, operations manager at John Telfer in Hawick.
Gary Callachan, operations manager at John Telfer in Hawick.

A long-established blacksmith’s business in Hawick is forging ahead with ambitious new expansion plans.

John Telfer, a blacksmith and metalwork company, is looking to move more into the construction sector after securing an invoice-factoring facility with the Bank of Scotland.

A company boss said the move offers a chance to “modernise and diversify” the business during a period of turbulence in the steelwork industry.

The sixth-generation family firm, based at Mansfield Gardens Industrial Estate, has developed a strategic business plan to increase its productivity and turnover.

Established in 1872, it already has a strong reputation across the central belt of Scotland, and its new invoice-factoring facility will free up cashflow to invest in recruitment and new equipment.

The business is also looking to expand its operations into the north of England.

John Telfer currently carries out structural steelwork projects and provides metalwork, such as gates and railings, for homes and commercial properties.

It is now looking to work with housebuilders to provide timber and steel for construction firms.

There are currently 10 members of staff employed across the company, and two job opportunities have been created for a new welder and fabricator.

The business also has plans to work with Skills Development Scotland to build a new apprenticeship programme to encourage young people to join the trade.

Gary Callachan, its operations director, said: “Our history runs back to the days of the traditional blacksmith’s forge and bellows, and we have been growing steadily for years.

“The steelwork industry is very turbulent, and we saw a need to modernise and diversify into property construction to remain competitive.

“We have been supported by the Bank of Scotland for over 50 years, and the team there has provided us with a facility that has given us the flexibility to turn our growth vision into a reality.”

Graham Nisbet, a relationship manager at the Bank of Scotland, added: “John Telfer has a strong heritage in the Borders, and when Gary approached us for support, we saw an opportunity to boost a business that had great potential.

“Bank of Scotland is committed to supporting traditional businesses to help Britain prosper, and we have a team of sector experience who are on hand to provide a variety of financing options to give businesses the headroom to grow.”

When William Telfer first established the business at the end of the 1800s, it was run from a small workshop in Hawick .

Today, the company benefits from the latest blacksmithing technology and operates from a modern, purpose-built workshop.

As a family-run firm, there is rigorous control over the quality of all the metalwork produced, it boasts.

Founded in Crown Lane, the business continued through five generations from William to John Telfer, followed by another William, then Ian and the late Alan Telfer.

It was in 1991 that the firm moved to its current base off Mansfield Road.

The firm also supplies and erects all types of railings, balustrades, handrails, stairs, patios, balconies and ramps for the disabled.

Other products it manufactures include security fencing, chain link fencing, fire escapes, driveway gates and wrought ironwork.