A LOCAL sawmill has announced a significant expansion of its services thanks to a funding package from a major bank.

The owners of Ridings Sawmills in Cardross have undertaken a multi-million pound project to install state-of-the-art new machinery at their 8.5 acre site in the village, securing the future of the company's 45 employees.

Managing director Frank Riding, who lives in Helensburgh and who runs the business along with family members David Riding and Lindsay McKechnie, said: “The lack of space at the site has been a key frustration for us for many years, especially as the business has continued to grow.

“We have invested heavily in new equipment to help improve production efficiency but we knew that the intermittent flow of product we had, caused by a lack of space, was really preventing us from making further improvements.

“It was also impacting on our profit margins as every second of ‘dead time’ that the saws were running whilst we were moving wood around the site resulted in extra costs. The improvements mean we can now produce more product at the same cost.”

Funding from the Royal Bank of Scotland, RBS Invoice Finance and Lombard enabled the firm to connect two areas of the site which were previously separated by a small burn.

By culverting the burn and concreting the area, the company has been able to access two acres of previously unused land for production use, enabling it to install new state-of-the-art log line machinery including a butt reducer, de-barker, metal detector and a laser 3D measuring system, leading to more efficient throughput in the sawmill and improved profit margins.

“By covering the burn that ran through a small corner of the site,” Mr Riding continued, “we have been able to add two acres of space to our facility, providing room for the new log line machinery.

“We've been with the Royal Bank of Scotland for more than 30 years, and they've given us significant support for investments at the whole plant throughout that time.

“The secret of our success is being hands-on – I enjoy being out in the yard and in the mill as much as I can, working with our loyal and dedicated team of employees.”

Most of the timber processed at the Cardross sawmill is purchased from Forest Enterprise and sourced from sites in the West Argyll forest district, in Cowal, Mid Argyll and from the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park in the Trossachs, though the company also buys from private sector land owners in the Helensburgh and Lomond area.

The lion's share of timber from the sawmill is used for fencing, sheds, pallets and packaging, along with some for construction, most of it sold to firms in England, although all the wood that comes in to the site is sold on, whether in the form of timber, bark, shavings or even sawdust.