Engineering firm linking Romford with the world

Behind rows of unassuming residential properties in Romford, in a quiet industrial estate, lies an engineering business with links to all corners of the world.

Linking the town to emerging business in booming economies like China and India, and established economic powerhouses from America to Australia – businesses use the company’s unique machines made for the diamond tooling industry.

Last week the Recorder, Havering mayor Cllr Lynden Thorpe, Deputy Lieutenant Col Markham Bryant and Romford MP Andrew Rosindell toured Coborn Engineering in Chesham Close.

The family-run business is the only firm in the world making such machines commercially, and it has felt the changes in the global economy – seeing a major increase in interest from China.

Chairman John Innocent, said: “In the last three years, the business that’s come from China makes the first 20 years of business (with China) look totally worthless.”

Its machine fitters regularly travel the world, installing their products in other countries, and providing technical support to the companies that use them.

Robert Bullman, said: “Last year I spent three months in China, a month in India. I’ve been going to China for over ten years.

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“When I get in, in the morning, most of my emails have come from China.”

Founded in 1941 by John’s father, Sam Lewis Innocent, the company moved to Romford in 1961 and has quietly gone about its business of making specialist tools for industry.

Last year, fuelled by emerging markets it had a turnover of �7m. This year it has turned over �9m.

Directors of the company feel that its success is due to its long history, and traditional values.

Its technical prowess also plays apart, commercially producing machines which can cut diamonds accurately to 500th of a thousandth of an inch – helping customers create precision in fields as diverse as contact lens manufacturers and aircraft designers.

John said: “Other people don’t make things that are heavy anymore.” Managing director Steve Westlake added: “We do have customers trying to copy our designs, but we’ve got 30 years of history (in the model of the latest diamond cutting machine). I call our machines handmade, they’re like Swiss watches.”

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