Silver success for Knauf and bright times ahead

Stuart Bell, General Manager of Knauf Insulation.
Stuart Bell, General Manager of Knauf Insulation.

An insulation firm is celebrating 25 years in the same factory with its boss striving to “provide a positive future for his workforce”.

Proud Stuart Bell is looking ahead to bright times for Knauf Insulation based on the Hunter House Industrial Estate ,off Brenda Road, Hartlepool.

While the market remains tough, Stuart has ambitions. The company’s Hartlepool factory general manager said: “We are a large plant that operates with a small flexible workforce with a very small staff turnover.

The people here tend to be with us for a long time with many having 25 years’ service, I want to continue to provide a stable future for all employed at the site.”

Part of that ambition includes a plan to be more sustainable in what we do with the company releasing its third sustainability report.

That goal is already on the way with Knauf Insulation looking at achieving a zero waste to landfill policy.

Stuart would like to increase market share and recruit more staff and is currently looking to increase the workforce to 30.

The firm specialises in extruded polystyrene products for construction markets such as roofing and under-floor heating. It also makes insulation for Thermal plaster boards and products for loft storage decks.

Its future lies in the excellence of its team, and a company which makes multiple types of insulation products for any application.

“I would like to see us expand our product portfolio,” said Stuart. “My primary goal is to keep a strong manufacturing facility in Hartlepool.”

He is the perfect man to lead from the front.

He’s a Hartlepool lad through and through and has been at Knauf Insulation since 2001. He started out at Steetley and has spent almost all his working life in the town.

His ethos is to concentrate everything locally. If work needs to be outsourced, he tries to use firms in town, the plant operates with a local transport company for deliveries throughout the UK.

As well as Hartlepool, the firm has plenty of presence in other parts of the UK.

Its head office, and oldest plant, is in St Helen’s while other manufacturing facilities in Queensferry and Cwmbran cover other market sectors and applications in the industry.

Knauf Insulation employs 5,000 people in more than 35 countries and more than 30 manufacturing sites worldwide.

Knauf was founded in 1932 by the brothers Karl and Dr. Alfons N. Knauf.

From its beginnings in gypsum processing along the Saar and Main rivers, Knauf has expanded to deliver products in fields such as building materials and systems, thermal insulation and sound insulation materials, limestone and lime products, chalk and cement related products, and plant engineering.

But it is in Hartlepool that Stuart sees a strong future.

“I want the best for this plant and the people who work here,” he said.

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1984 The original company Polyfoam is formed in a smaller unit on the industrial estate.

1986 The business is acquired by Linpac Plastics.

1987 The firm built the current factory.

1988 The factory was officially opened on May 6 by The Duke and Duchess of York Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.

2002 Knauf took over the business.