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Helping hand for Cohline

Posted: December 7, 2007

With many UK manufacturing businesses looking to relocate to countries in Eastern Europe and further afield to China and South East Asia, it’s refreshing to know that there are companies still thriving much closer to home.

Take Cohline near Ramsgate, for example. The German-owned business has carved a niche out for itself manufacturing a range of tube and hose line systems not only for the automotive sector, commercial vehicles, construction and agricultural machinery and motor industry but also for their suppliers.

Cohline came over to the UK in 1989, and Kent seemed like the obvious choice. “The decision was made because Kent was the nearest point to Germany,” says Hans Cohnen, managing director of the engineering firm. It’s proved a good decision: having started with two people, the business now employs nearly 100 staff making its systems for BMW, AUDI, DAIMLER CHRYSLER and PORSCHE among others.

Almost since day one, Burgess Hodgson has been advising Hans and his team. “When we came over from Germany, we started as a very small company – in fact, just myself and my wife!” says Hans. “One of the first things we did was to rent an industrial unit in Whitstable, the owner of which recommended us to Burgess Hodgson: we’ve been with them ever since. Our relationship has since expanded to include our personal tax affairs, as well as all the intricacies of dealing with a Europe-wide business.”

Burgess Hodgson completes all the company accounts for Cohline UK Ltd, which is the manufacturing part of the business, and Cohnen GBR, which owns the land and buildings, as well as looking after the directors’ personal tax. The firm also handles the payroll for the business, and has previously been involved in helping Cohline secure grants from the Kent Economic Development Board.

It’s a very involved relationship, as Hans explains: “In Germany, we have a saying ‘the right hand of the business. Whenever, we have a question, we can call Burgess Hodgson, and they will come up with a solution – one way or another!”

Unlike many other manufacturing businesses, Cohline is still committed to the Kent operation, thanks to its highly trained staff and the speed with which it can deliver goods back to Germany – urgent items can be in Frankfurt in about seven hours.

“You put a lot of effort to get your people trained,” he says. “The skills people have here are definitely better than those in Eastern Europe. “Now that we are established with a quality workforce and high manufacturing standards, it would be difficult to replicate this elsewhere, without a great deal of time, money and effort. The UK remains an important base for us.

And, with a relationship spanning nearly 18 years, Hans is confident that Burgess Hodgson will continue to provide the high levels of service and expertise he’s come to expect, as well as the ability to be able to deal with a pan-European operation.

“In our case, Burgess Hodgson even liaises with our German accountants,” explains Hans. “You’d be hard pressed to find another firm that works more flexibly than Burgess Hodgson.”
And for the future? “We have an area of four acres at Manston Airport and we are planning to purchase up to another six acres to expand the factory,” says Hans. “While we’re confident of the future of the Cohline business in Kent, we would find it much more difficult to operate without Burgess Hodgson acting as our ‘right hand’.”

www.cohline-uk.org


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