A J Engineering buys Lochaber company

AJ Engineering take over Fort Willian firm
AJ Engineering managing director Alan James (centre) has signed a deal to take over Fort William company NEWCO. He is pictured here with owners Ron and Denise MacLennan. Picture: Marc Hindley, Chit Chat PR

A MORAY engineering and construction company has expanded its business operation by taking over a Lochaber firm.

A J Engineering and Construction Services Limited is celebrating after buying out Fort William-based Northern Engineering & Welding Co (NEWCo).

Alan James, managing director of AJ Engineering said he was delighted with the acquisition which took place on October 1: “This was an important move for us as a company and I know that my existing firm and NEWCo will complement each other very well.

“Structure wise nothing is going to change. The NEWCo name will stay, the staff will remain as they are and apart from one of our Forres team going to Fort William to run things down there alongside NEWCo’s production manager, it’s business as usual.”

Alan James set up the fabrication company in 1999 and it has grown steadily to become a respected provider of specialist fabrication and engineering services to the construction, railway, renewable energy and water treatment industries through Scotland and the Islands.

In 2012 the company which has 62 staff carried out a £600,000 expansion of its premises giving it the capability of competing for larger contracts.

Two of its most public projects include the steel fabrication work for the Firth of Forth replacement and gantry work for the Kessock Bridge.

Alan James has bought NEWCo which has 13 staff members from husband and wife team, Ron and Denise MacLennan who have been leading the company since 2000.

Alan said: “Ron and Denise have been very active in the company and to smooth the transition they are still going to be on hand to help. They have a great business and with AJ Engineering behind it, we will be able to develop it further.”

He added: “NEWCo have a great client base, in fact we share some of the same clients. However some of their customers need more engineering support which until now they have been unable to offer. We have bigger facilities in Forres to help with the manufacturing. I have no doubt that this new set up will work well, we have the same ethos and philosophy. The acquisition can only work well for both locations and of course the clients.”

Ron and Denise took over NEWCO in 2000 in management buyout although the company was established in 1985.

The production facility in Fort William encompasses welding, rolling, shearing, punching, bending, plasma profiling facilities and machining. They are suppliers to a wide range of engineering based industries in both the large scale industrial sector and private sector.

Ron said: “We took over in 2000 as we saw prospects in the company. We were sure that we could go places with it and that it would have a bright future. However, we both feel that we have taken it as far as we can.

“However, we are not simply walking away, we will be on hand to help with the transition and as Alan says, it will be business as usual.”

Denise added: “We really feel that NEWCo will go further being under a bigger entity. The industry is changing so much and as smaller business, we are struggling to keep up and be able to fulfil certain criteria. AJ Engineering has all of these requirements in place already. It seems a perfect fit and we have no doubt that Alan will be able to take NEWCo even further.”

Food fund puts cash on the table for Grantown 250


Regality Food Fair – Grantown 250
Time for food – festivals organiser Bill Sadler (left) and treasurer Peter Holland welcome a £6000 cash boost for the Regality Food Fair.

Organisers of the Highlands’ biggest birthday party are savouring a slice of funding that will help them serve up a tasty event.

Grantown 250, the Strathspey Seven Festivals, has received £6000 from the Community Food Fund (CFF) to help them host the Regality Food Fair as part of a week-long celebration of the town’s 250th anniversary.

As part of the Scottish Government funded three-year Think Local Project, the CFF supports projects and events around Scotland that encourage people to appreciate and access local produce.

Food Fair organiser Bill Sadler said: “We are delighted to receive this boost in funds for the Regality Food Fair which will showcase the range and diversity of food and drink in the area and how it has evolved over the past 250 years. The Community Food Fund’s criteria was a good match for our event which will focus very heavily on local produce.”

Twenty four food and drink initiatives around Scotland benefited from grants totalling £135,820 from the latest round of Community Food Fund (CFF) applications, the largest sum given out so far by the CFF.

Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Food Richard Lochhead said: “I’m delighted to confirm that more local food and drink initiatives are benefiting from this latest round of Community Food Fund awards. This is the most money ever given out in a single round of CFF awards – taking the total amount of funding awarded to £739,476, distributed among 109 initiatives.

“We had 39 applications overall during this funding phase – the most we’ve had since CFF began – which is extremely encouraging as it shows more communities are working towards getting access to, and enjoying, the fresh, seasonal, nutritious, and local food and drink we produce here in Scotland.

“During the Year of Food and Drink it is particularly essential that people take advantage of our fantastic natural larder in order to achieve our ambition of becoming a Good Food Nation. Congratulations to all initiatives that have received an award in this round.”

The Regality Food Fair takes place on Wednesday 24 June from 11am to 4pm. More details are available from www.grantown250.org


Green energy superheroes take to the streets to raise cash for kids

Directors and staff from Green Moray Renewables in Forres don superhero suits to raise money for MFR Cash fo Kids
Directors and staff from Green Moray Renewables in Forres don superhero suits to raise money for MFR Cash fo Kids

A MICRO renewable company has used its superpowers to raise money and awareness for a children’s charity.

Green Moray Renewables came to the rescue of Cash For Kids and donned Teenage Mutant Ninja Hero outfits to take part in the cause’s Superhero Day on Friday (May 15).

Graham Meacher owner of the firm based at the Greshop Industrial Estate in Forres explained why they wanted to take part in the event: “We have been in business for almost two years now and we have been looking at opportunities to do some work with the community. We thought as a starting point this is a great charity but also good fun. We are a small family-run business and Cash For Kids struck a chord as I have children, so could easily identify with what the charity does and who it is aimed at.”

He added: “We like that the money raised from the event will also stay within this region.”

Cash For Kids provides a helping hand to disabled and disadvantaged children around the Highlands, Moray and Aberdeenshire.

On Friday morning, the team from Green Moray Renewables worked from their base and were visited by MFR’s breakfast host Ginno Conti and Allana Mackay, Cash For Kids charity executive.

In the afternoon they hot footed it round to the Forres branch of Tesco and Costa to entertain shoppers.

Graham in true Ninja style said: “Kowabunga baby, we don’t yet know what we have raised as MFR Cash for Kids will do the counting, but it was a great afternoon. The shoppers were digging deep and seemed amused by our superhero presence. Thanks to Tesco and Costa for letting us use their premises.”

Sponsors sought for Grantown’s big birthday party

Bill Sadler, Grantown 250
Bill Sadler hopes local businesses will help sponsor Grantown 250.
Picture: Marc Hindley/Chit Chat PR

Businesses are being offered the chance to sponsor an eight-day event which will bring music, dance, history, sport and culture to a local town.

Grantown 250 – The Strathspey Seven is seven festivals rolled into one and will take place in June.

And the organisers are offering the opportunity for businesses to get involved to support the celebration which is being held to mark the 250th birthday of Grantown-On-Spey.

Bill Sadler who is heading up the organisational team explained: “This is a great opportunity for a company to get involved in something which is going to be big for Grantown and Strathspey and which is going to draw in crowds from across the region and hopefully the country.

“We need sponsors to be able to put on the best festival we can and without a doubt, anyone taking up this chance will get great coverage but can also go away knowing they have helped stage something which is very important for our historical town.”

Big birthday party

Grantown 250 – The Strathspey Seven is tipped to be the Highlands’ biggest birthday party. It will focus on seven themes – Food and Drink, Heritage, Environment, Tourism, Trade, Music and Sport.

Bill added: “We are delighted that Seafield Estates are our headline sponsor but there are still many other ways to get involved. For example, you can sponsor one of the days or one of the themes, or even become and event partner. We are also delighted to take donations and we have been lucky enough that a few people have already taken up this opportunity.”

The festival begins on June 21 and over the eight days will showcase over 100 events from interactive displays, historical pub crawls, music evenings, and a traditional market.

The whole community

The idea for the event has been in the planning for well over a year and Bill explained why it is taking place: “Grantown has such a rich history and there are few towns where you can trace back the history so clearly. This eight day festival will involve the whole community. It’s a celebration for local people and visitors from home and abroad. It will showcase the history and attractions of our unique community. The project is the brainchild of several local people who wish the special qualities of Grantown to be celebrated and become more widely known, thus creating a lasting legacy.”

The festival will finish on June 28 with a host of events which will climax in a celebration dinner and organisers hope that attendees will dress in full period costume.

To find out more about the event and how to get involved visit www.grantown250.org or find Grantown 250 on Facebook and Twitter.