Coborn Engineering Company Limited is family run engineering business with a long history dating back more than 70 years. Based in central Romford, Coborn exports more than 90 per cent of its products, an achievement that won them The Queen’s Award for Export Excellence in 2013.
Coborn Engineering manufactures polishing and grinding machines for diamonds and other super hard materials. Its export business spans more than 50 countries across all continents, with China its fastest expanding market.
A major selling point for Coborn is their unique capability to handle each and every aspect of their machines including design, manufacture, software and hardware. Everything is designed and produced in-house by their dedicated team of engineers which allows them to deliver high precision tools, tailored to individual requirements.
“Strong Local Workforce, Excellent Location & Borough Support are Reasons for Growth”
Coborn Engineering has expanded over the years to occupy three adjacent units on an industrial estate in Chesham Close in central Romford. Permission was granted to merge the units into one, providing 23,000 square feet of workspace. The business turns over around £11 million a year and employs more than 70 people who between them produce 12 different types of machines.
Having continued to grow despite facing as many as five recessions, Coborn puts this down to three main factors, one of which is its people. A very specialised and diverse pool of skills is an essential requirement for this business: its success has depended upon the excellence of its personnel since 1941.
Coborn’s owner John Innocent also cites a highly accessible location and a supportive local council as contributors to the company’s ongoing achievements, saying: “We have grown during five recessions because our factory is well located for national and international travel; because we have a good, well-educated and flexible local work force and the local council is one that works with businesses to support the local economy.”
A Business Buoyed by Local Talent
Location appears to be a key factor in the strength of the workforce. London Borough of Havering is rich in talent on numerous levels, including technical and professional, and this in part is down to its plentiful high quality educational establishments that invest in a comprehensive array of skills training at all levels.
John backs this up, saying: “Coborn Engineering has a global reputation for excellence which we have achieved because of the commitment and expertise of our staff. Among the 70 people we employ are half a dozen father and son teams – both of my sons work at the factory – and each year we take on two apprentices from local schools and universities.”
“Around 80 per cent of our current work-force joined us straight from school or university and three-quarters of our staff live in Havering, so we are truly a local company.”
Local Expertise Supports Rapid Growth
Over the past two years, Coborn Engineering has experienced a phase of particularly rapid growth, which has led to a need to contract out part of its process. Again, Havering has come good with a strong offering of local expertise, enabling Coborn to keep its operation close to home.
John Innocent explains: “Since 2012 our expansion has been so rapid that we now use 12 carefully vetted sub-contractors to do part of the process and most of those are in Havering or neighbouring boroughs.”
Access to a skilled workforce and local expertise, a location well situated for international commerce and a supportive local council have all helped an innovative and customer-orientated business to thrive over seven decades. Having won The Queen’s Award for Industry in 2013, hot on the heels of its victory at the Havering Business Awards in 2010, it is clear that Coborn Engineering Company Limited is destined for continued success.