Pullman Design & Fabrication Ltd


The business was formed after the closure of one of the largest private rail maintenance companies in the UK with three factory locations throughout the UK and headquarters in Cardiff. The closure came at the time of the privatisation of the railways and the construction of the Channel Tunnel, both of these projects were running a number of years behind schedule, as a result no new orders were placed for replacement rolling stock or maintenance contracts. The impact of this upon the industry was that a number of companies closed and a significant number of jobs were lost. Employment opportunities were not available, as a result a number of senior managers and workers decided to form their own company, this was the motivation to start the business.

Our main challenges when starting the business

The main challenge was losing the UK’s biggest toy retailer - Woolworths - and the second challenge was finding new customers and markets. The main challenges the company now faces is to simply to stay ahead and innovate.

Success Factor

The main factor in the growth of the company has been the rapid change in the rail industry now that privatisation has fully developed. New ideas have been introduced into the industry and companies have been allowed to offer different methods of working and alternative suppliers to the original method of everything being supplied by a single organisation. The change mentioned above allowed the company to offer to supply all of the material as an overhauled kit to the train operating companies, allowing them to carry out their own maintenance on site. Saving them costs of the vehicle being out of service whilst travelling to and from the repairers, saving on the high cost of having a main works carry the maintenance out with the increase in both margin and profit for the supplier, being able to utilise their own workforce and facilities adding to the cost saving. Being a small privately owned company, the directors are hands on and the management structure is very small, this gives the opportunity to make decisions very quickly on what to accept and reject on contracts. The company is also able to rely on a very flexible workforce who accept that the customer is the most important person and will co-operate in all ways to ensure work is completed on time and correctly.

The Future

The plan for the business is to grow from its present level of £11m to a turnover of £20m by 2015. This strategy for growth must be supported by reducing costs, reducing waste, increasing efficiencies (both cost and production), increasing physical capacity and increasing the capacity of the workforce. Pullman’s will also strengthen the company’s position in the market place by investing in new facilities and increasing the management team to a level that will allow it to have greater control and allow for the replacement of staff and the training of new people to take the business forward.