Boro’ Foundry

Lye, Stourbridge

With a reputation as a major player in the historic restoration market, the Boro’ Foundry is a traditional family-owned sand casting business that has operated on its site in Lye, Stourbridge, since the early 1900s.

Over the last few years, Boro’ has been involved in a number of restoration projects that tested its skills in reverse engineering. For example, the company reproduced 16 cast iron “serpent” benches for Sandwell Council’s restoration project at the Victorian period Haden Hill House.

Boro Foundry now complements its machine shop with a modern, computer-based foundry. Equipped to handle all requirements from drawing and material specification through to the highest quality precision-machined finished components, Boro offers a one-stop-shop service.

This doesn’t mean the company rests on its laurels. The directors appreciate the need to look at modernisation and diversification to keep the company competitive. “We are looking for new markets and want to achieve a culture of innovation within the company”, said Bev Edwards, Company Secretary. “We need to be able to anticipate and respond effectively to the changing needs of our existing customers and attract new ones.”

Martin Borley joined the Boro’ Foundry as Business Manager a year ago. One of the first tasks he identified was a revival of the fireplace division. He produced several unusual designs for contemporary fire baskets, including a cast iron bowl with a stone effect finish and a novel ‘sea shell’ design complete with mermaid.

How the Advanced Engineering Cluster helped

To help Boro’ develop a new strategic plan, the Cluster’s team of experts carried out detailed market research and reported on key factors and trends in the cast metal industry, identifying areas of potential growth for Boro. A benchmarking exercise followed to identify the major strengths within the company on which it could build.

Earlier this year, Boro’ opened a factory shop offering all kinds of fireplaces, available to the public as finished units. Before Martin Borley’s early designs for contemporary firebaskets could be manufactured, Boro’ needed the detail in a form ready for use by the pattern maker. Using computer aided design technology, the Advanced Engineering Cluster team was happy to transform Martin’s sketches into 3D images for discussion and modification of the designs. Prototypes were then produced to show customers and get their feedback.

Boro’ launched the new products at the 2005 Hearth and Home Exhibition in Harrogate. “Our new baskets were viewed with great interest”, says Martin. “Enquiries came from retailers, distributors, agents, and even a major internet site! Although most visitors were UK-based we also have interest from distributors in Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Malta and Brazil. This has been a great start for us.”

“The Cluster team have given us their enthusiastic support and introduced us to new customers.” says Bev Edwards. “The Cluster’s assistance has been vital to Boro’s growth over the last year.”

Captions:

Martin Borley with the stone bowl fire basket

Victorian serpent bench reproduced by the Boro’ Foundry