Eden businessman returnsfrom retirement to save his firm

Date: Friday 15th September 2017
Joiner Hylton Fischer (left), who has been with the company for more than 16 years, and foreman Andrew Davidson, who has been there for 23 years.
Joiner Hylton Fischer (left), who has been with the company for more than 16 years, and foreman Andrew Davidson, who has been there for 23 years.

A BUSINESSMAN who returned from retirement to save his former firm when it was about to go into liquidation has been reflecting on a successful first year.

Alan James Chapelhow, established A. J. & D. Chapelhow Ltd., a general joinerery business, in 1961 and later diversified into the construction and erection of timber-framed houses.

In 1982 the Cliburn-based company began manufacturing pre-finished timber windows with factory double and triple glazing and by 1984 the timber window and door side of the businesss had grown to become the mainstay of the factory.

In 2015, with more than 54 successful years behind him and a workforce of more than 23 highly skilled staff, Alan felt the time was right to sell the business and retire at 76.

However, it soon became clear that all was not well, and the promises made to the workforce and to Alan himself by the new owner were not all they seemed.

Within months the business was in serious decline and about to go into liquidation. Alan decided that he could not stand by and watch both the company he started and the loyal workforce which had been with him for so long go to the wall, so he stepped in and bought the assets from the liquidator.

That was a year ago and after 12 months of hard work and legal challenges the company is back supplying and fitting fine quality timber windows and doors for which it is known throughout Cumbria and beyond. The workforce has grown in number, with some of those who had left in the intervening year returning and some new recruits having been taken on.

One employee said: “The past 12 months have shown just how committed to the company our workforce is. They stuck with the company during some very trying times but now with A. J. back at the helm, and the wealth of both old and new talent in the factory, we are back on track and back to offering the first class service and quality of work for which we were previously known.”

The workforce is operating the latest machinery, and every aspect of the work from concept to design and build is carried out at the workshop in Cliburn.