Opening doors: Historic Lancashire manufacturing company Pendle Doors on heritage, handling Covid, and embracing new tech

It’s said that when one door closes, another opens, but a more accurate axiom for Pendle Doors is ‘when they finish making one door, they make another. And another. And another.’

By Jack Marshall
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 4:55 am
Ryan Anderson, Operations Director at Pendle Doors in Darwen. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Ryan Anderson, Operations Director at Pendle Doors in Darwen. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

Founded in East Lancashire in the 1950s, Pendle Doors may have since moved to Darwen, but they’re still the same family-run company at heart, now offering a wide range of bespoke timber door-sets from their 30,000 square-ft manufacturing facility.

Using sustainable materials wherever possible, the company manufactures sets ranging from fire-resistant products to acoustic-control products, all delivered in a single package for easy assembly across a variety of industries including schools, hospitals, leisure centres, and designer homes.

Embracing modern tech, the company has also been working with tech adoption programme Made Smarter, which maximises growth and efficiency for Lancastrian companies, to focus on skill development, tech projects including 3D printing, digitalisation to streamline the business and upskill employees, and new objectives to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint.

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Joiners Stevie Bell and Louie Brian place a door frame on a table ready to start the next step of construction. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“We still do old-school joinery, but it’s also key to modernise and keep on top of things like the latest software through Made Smarter or tech like the 3D printer, which has been great,” says Operations Director Ryan Anderson. “Each year for a number of years, we’ve invested a minimum of £150,000 on the machinery, so it’s all about pushing business forwards all the time.

“That keeps the work fresh and, ultimately, improves longevity, productivity, and confidence in the workforce,” adds Ryan, 28, whose parents own the company. “Over the past few years, we’ve had massive growth, development, and investment in machinery and staff. It’s all about creating the best culture we can.

“My role is pretty much what it says on the tag: making sure operations go ahead smoothly and making sure that, when orders come in, products go out the door as quickly as possible,” says Ryan, having been at the company 11 years. “But it also involves stuff like technical to production and transport management, too.”

Aside from a brief period during the first lockdown in April 2020 when Pendle Doors had to shut up shop for a couple of weeks, things have been going gangbusters during Covid. Adapting to new safety regulations to ensure they could work as securely as possible, the company got to work to meet a deluge of new demand.

Buyer Ian Holdfield at his desk at Pendle Doors in Darwen. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard

“Because we supply the construction industry, demand has just been massive throughout the pandemic,” explains Ryan, originally from Blackpool. “Over the past two years or so, we’ve actually increased turnover, which is great.

“But the pandemic did change ways of working,” he adds, with the company having recently teamed up with East Lancs Hospice to do more for the local community. “It’s made us more flexible and that’s something we’re still trying to do now, especially with things like working from home improving people’s work-life balance.

“Touch wood, we’re still stable at the moment, so we want to make it easier for our 40 employees to get the job done,” he continues. “Overall, from a purely business point of view, everything has been okay for us because demand has continued and we’ve not had to furlough anybody - we’ve actually taken two people on.

"In a horrible situation for everyone, things have gone relatively well for the business itself.”

Frames of doors hanging ready to be spray painted. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
David Cowell marks up a door ahead of the next step of construction. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard
Sprayer Richard Braddock spray paints the frame of a door. Photo: Kelvin Stuttard