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John King Celebrates a Chain Reaction

September 9, 2008

By Bernard Ginns Business Editor

The group, based in Sherburn in Elmet, will provide 8,000 metres of chain for Indian giant Jindal Steel and Power at a new rolling mill in the city of Raipur.The win follows another successful contract completion in China, where the company provided the chain for a new rollercoaster.David Wadsworth, the managing director, said: “This really bucks the trend. With these large labour pool manufacturers in India and China, it is very unusual that a British company should give them a taste of their own medicine.”Mr Wadsworth said the company won the Indian contract on technical merit. “We couldn’t compete with the low-cost local manufacturers on price so we sold it on quality and reliability.”We are providing all the chains for handling the steel. There will be special chains for heat handling and general handling of steel plate thereafter.”John King Chains manufactures chains and sprockets for the steel, cement, sugar, timber products and mining markets. It has expanded its overseas operations to major English-speaking developed economies and owns businesses in North America, Canada and South Africa.The company has a distribution centre in East Africa, based in Nairobi, and provides equipment for sugar cane operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.The business also distributes in Argentina and Chile, where Mr Wadsworth said locals value British manufacturing. “Places like Chile still have the idea that British is best,” he added. The company will target Australia next and hopes to have an operation established by 2010.Mr Wadsworth, who is 50, said Yorkshire manufacturers are “an endangered species”.”We used to be very big in manufacturing mining chain. We concentrated on heavy industry. “As heavy industry has declined we made a conscious decision to look elsewhere. If we relied on the declining UK cake we would have been in serious trouble.”The market in Europe is tough and uneven and Britain is disadvantaged by the flawed concept of the EU, said Mr WadsworthJohn King founded John King Chains in Leeds in 1926 to supply conveyor chains and mechanical handling equipment to the world’s growing coal industries.The company has seen year-on- year growth and this year expects a turnover of around 10m, with profits of 2m. The group has around 65 employees worldwide.The contract with Jindal Steel and Power is set for completion in March. Jindal is India’s third largest steel company, after Tata and the Steel Authority of India.It’s a big dealTHIS five-tonne monster sprocket looks like it could belong to a giant bicycle and there is a chain to fit.John King Chains is one of the few manufacturers still able to produce such large, one-off components.Engineers flame- cut the sprocket from a high-grade steel frame and manufacture the boss separately.Unsurprisingly perhaps, the wheel is too large to fit on a lathe.The company produced the sprocket for an industrial transmission drive arrangement for the oil-seed crushing industry in the Middle East.Pictured above standing by the sprocket is Rob Austwick, the company’s works manager.

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