A KEIGHLEY company has celebrated a milestone.

Gesipa has marked half a century of manufacturing in the town.

Starting from small roots, it is now a thriving international firm employing over 70 people in the UK.

It was on March 4, 1971, that Dr Hans Georg Biermann – founder of Gesipa – bought a small Keighley-based company known as Rivetcraft Ltd.

The firm assembled and sold hand riveting tools – and following the acquisition, products manufactured by Gesipa in Germany were introduced to this country.

At that time, the company operated out of rented premises.

But as the business grew, the building became increasingly cramped and several options were investigated.

In 1978, a decision was made to acquire the existing site – at Dalton Lane.

The land had been occupied by back-to-back terraced housing and due to the existence of basements, special – and expensive – groundworks were needed before construction could begin.

But the move to the new premises took place in March the following year.

The relocation saw a desperately-needed increase in space, from around 400 square metres to 1,500.

And that extra space was fully utilised by the company.

In 1981, Gesipa bought its first rivet-making machinery.

Demand for rivets was such that eight years later an extra 1,500 square metres were added to the premises to house all the machinery, raw materials and products – and two further extensions have taken place since.

The Keighley plant is now one of five Gesipa production facilities across the world.

Diana Scholefield, managing director of Gesipa UK, said: “We are very proud of what we have achieved at our plant in Keighley over the last 50 years.

“We have seen many changes and challenges in the markets we work in, but continue to adapt to them.

“Our biggest asset here in Keighley is our people, many of whom have grown-up with the company – and I thank everybody for their contribution to our success.

“We look forward to the next 50 years, working with our customers and suppliers for the next chapter of the Gesipa story.”

All Gesipa UK staff received a gift to mark the anniversary.