The furniture manufacturer, Alexander Cleghorn, began life just after World War II in the Stoke Newington back garden of Alex and Winnie Cleghorn. Continued growth led to the incorporation of the company in 1958, followed in 1970 by its move to the current site in Tiptree, Essex.
Still very much a family run business, it now turns over £12.5 million focusing on the supply of wood-based sheet materials to many industries. The company’s 85-strong team services sectors including office, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom furniture manufacturers, shopfitting, schools/colleges, hotels and restaurants. With a reputation for providing a high level of service and a personal touch, Alexander Cleghorn continually looks for opportunities to improve its manufacturing capabilities.
“Currently, we occupy a 16-acre site with 100,000 sq. ft. of covered buildings,” explains director, Gary Cleghorn. He continues, “We refer to ourselves as a bulk bespoke furniture manufacturer that can produce anything from a single piece to thousands of the same item.
“Over the last ten years, we’ve been moving towards a single supply chain. This strategy has developed for several reasons, not least being the ever-growing importance of software to control the increasing complexity of the machinery. By gravitating towards one machinery and software supplier, we believe it will give us a long-term competitive advantage.”
Developing a partnership with HOMAG UK
“Almost by natural selection, HOMAG has emerged as our machinery and software supply chain partner. The quality of its products, coupled with the excellent level of service and support, have created a solid foundation for the partnership. This has flourished with the open and candid relationship between our people and HOMAG’s teams in both the UK and Germany.
“There is now a level of trust and respect between our two companies that opens the door to innovation and solutions that otherwise might be missed. The HOMAG personnel are in-tune, not only with our business, but also our values. Their engineers work closely with our in-house experts to specify the machinery that is absolutely right for our requirements.
“Whether it is replacing an old piece of equipment, finding a solution to a bottleneck in our production or suggesting a new machine that will take our manufacturing to the next level, we can rely on HOMAG for the right advice and support.”
The need for a new saw, a vertical drilling CNC and laser edging technology
“Even though we lean towards a single supplier, we always research what the market has to offer when we are exploring new machinery and software. Looking at our three most recent investments, each was required for different reasons.
“The HOMAG SAWTEQ B-300 was purchased to replace an ageing saw. The new saw had to complement our two existing saws. The focus for the new saw was the ability to handle smaller batch runs, smaller panels and more delicate materials. We also needed it to be quick to prep and capable of processing work rapidly and accurately.
“With the DRILLTEQ V-200, it was simply a matter of wanting to increase our capacity in this area. We already had two larger BHX 500 machines and an earlier version of the V-200, so we knew exactly what was required. The new DRILLTEQ gives us not only increased throughput, but also the flexibility to handle the smaller more difficult panels. In addition, its minimal footprint maximised space utilisation in our factory.
“As far as the laser edging capability is concerned, this new technology was something we’d been considering for some time. We already had a HOMAG high-speed KFL 612 edge bander with an automated feed and stacking system, but with the increasing demand for high-end furniture, particularly premium boardroom furniture, we needed a different solution to provide the very highest level of finish.
“We felt that a key aspect to achieving the standards required for these products was a move to shaped laser edging; a technology which consistently delivers an almost invisible join. Working closely with HOMAG, we were able to specify a machine that would handle a diverse range of production challenges.
“At an investment in the region of £1 million, however, the decision to opt for the HOMAG CENTATEQ E-700 was not something we arrived at lightly. In fact, the whole process unfolded over a two-year period. I went on visits around Europe to see the machine in operation. These visits allowed me to talk to other manufacturers to get their opinions as to the performance and scope of the machine’s capabilities.
“Throughout our ruminations, HOMAG’s willingness to investigate and stretch the boundaries of what was achievable was impressive. They worked with us to ensure that the final specification of the CENTATEQ E-700 would deliver exactly what was needed.”
The benefits of partnering with HOMAG
“Although price is important to us, it’s never our starting point. Our most important considerations are faith in the people we’re buying from and confidence in their products: Are they well-made to high standards with first-class components and do they represent excellent value for money?
“With HOMAG we have that faith and confidence. Their people listen and are willing to work with us. They diligently work through the challenges we present and always come up with a solution, even when it’s something that doesn’t yet exist!
“Working with them enables us to prepare for the future. It opens up opportunities to bring new products to market by staying ahead of the curve. The cutting edge HOMAG machinery and software is without question the bedrock of our business,” concludes Gary Cleghorn.
“Working with HOMAG enables us to prepare for the future. It opens up opportunities to bring new products to market by staying ahead of the curve. The cutting edge HOMAG machinery and software is without question the bedrock of our business”
Gary Cleghorn, Director, Alexander Cleghorn