From boom to nearly bust, and back to boom again

A civil engineering firm that was forced to lay off the majority of its workforce is now looking to take on more staff.

B. Line nearly went to the wall when the financial crash started in 2007 and the firm at Eureka Farm, Napton, like many others, saw its work dry up.

Founded more than 30 years ago by managing director Bill Line, it grew from a small plant hire firm into a civil engineering contractor, taking on contracts worth more than £4 million.

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And now his director son Daniel Line, aged 32, said there was a feeling of optimism back in civil engineering.

B. Line’s latest contract is carrying out the preliminary groundwork on the building of the underpass at the notorious bottleneck that is the A45-A46 Toll Bar Island near Coventry Airport.

Mr Line said they were looking to recruit 15 to carry out that, to add to the existing 30 staff, and he said he was hoping other civil engineering work would see them at the site for around three years.

The company’s faith in the future is backed by the purchase of a £105,000 Cat excavator to add to its existing fleet of 12 machines and four lorries.

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Harking back to the dark days at the start of the financial crash, Daniel said: “We had work on Government-funded contracts and they got shelved. We had to go into hibernation. We managed to keep hold of people who had been with us for around 30 years – our key people. Within a year we went from 50 to six employees.”

For a family firm he said it was heartbreaking having to tell people they no longer had a job and said: “I remember with one family I had to lay the dad off, two sons, a nephew and a grandson.

“I had to walk around giving out redundancy – I never thought it would take so much out of you. I thought that you could just ‘man-up’ and do it, but it’s very, vary hard.”

The firm’s recent work was a £2 million contract on the Kettering Bypass and Mr Daniel said around 60 per cent of its contracts are for the public sector, with its turnover up 30 per cent on last year, and the hope that it will go up more by at least another 20 per cent.

The former Southam High School pupil is the proud dad of 14-week-old William and hopes his son will follow on in the business.

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