William Hare Group
The business was formed in 1888, originally operating as steel erection engineers under the leadership of William Hare. In 1920, William Hare Junior took the reins and in 1945 the company was incorporated, becoming William Hare Limited.
After his return from the Second World War, Bartle Hodgkiss, son-in-law to William Hare Junior joined the Board of Directors, and set about expanding operations into the steel fabrication market. In 1959 he took over at the helm of the company, and in the years to follow William Hare Ltd grew beyond the North West of England to carry out projects throughout the United Kingdom. During the 1960s and 1970s the company established itself in the petrochemicals and oil and gas markets, and began to export fabricated steel to projects worldwide.
Over the following decades expansion continued, with the purchase in 1977 of the California Engineering Company (now William Hare Bury Facility) and the establishment of William Hare SEA PTE Ltd with the opening of an office in Singapore in 1992. In the early 1990s son and daughter David and Susan Hodgkiss became joint Chief Executives as father Bartle stepped away from day-to-day operations into the role of Chairman. After a number of further acquisitions in the late 1990s including Hawkins Structures Ltd (now William Hare Scarborough works) and Westbury Tubular Structures Ltd (now Cellbeam Ltd), the company restructured under the umbrella company William Hare Group Limited in 1998.
The turn of the millennium was a time of change. William Hare moved its headquarters to Brandlesholme House in Bury, leaving the company’s birth place of Bolton. The company continued to grow and in 2002 William Hare India was established in Chennai and developed into a leading centre for engineering. In 2003 the company entered into a joint venture in FABSEC along with Severfield, Tata Steel and Sherwin Williams to develop cellular beam technology. This led to William Hare’s establishment of Cellbeam Ltd using state of the art machinery for the manufacture of cellular beams in Wetherby UK. In 2005 the acquisition of Headline Engineering UAE in Abu Dhabi was completed and the name changed to William Hare UAE LLC. After significant investment and development William Hare UAE now supplies both domestic markets in the Middle East and exports steelwork worldwide.
Expansion continued throughout the following decade and in 2010, William Hare purchased the Grantham Paint Facility and William Hare Painting Ltd became officially incorporated. In 2013 the company purchased the intellectual assets of Richard Lees Steel Decking Ltd and established William Hare Decking based in Ashborne, Derbyshire, becoming Richard Lees Decking. In 2017 William Hare Portugal was set up on the banks of the river in Porto, as an additional engineering resource specialising in temporary works and steelwork connection design, to support the engineering operations in India and the UK. Also, in 2017 Hybrid Structures was established to provide both stand-alone structural timber projects and hybrid steel and timber solutions, to meet our own and our clients’ global aspirations for carbon neutrality. In 2019 William Hare acquired the Risca fabrication facility in Wales installing new production infrastructure, and the company also purchased a new facility in Al Markaz, UAE to store and distribute all bolts for WHL UAE Projects.
The company remains family-owned and managed with Susan Hodgkiss CBE, supported by the next generation, taking on the role of Chief Executive Officer and Chair in 2020. In 2021 William Hare acquired a fabrication facility in Rotherham UK, further enhancing the Group’s ability to service projects both in the UK and overseas. The fundamental ethos of customer support and the desire for repeat engagement with valued clients has sustained the growth of the business for over a century, and will continue to be the motivation to ensure mutual success for clients and therefore the William Hare Group.