Onwards and upwards

Onwards and upwards

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In response to ever-increasing demand, lens specialist True Lens Services is expanding into a smart new space – in the same village where the company’s story began 20 years ago. 

Having the right working environment is important in ensuring employees are happy and efficient. This is even more of a priority when the work is as delicate as precision lens engineering. Which is why cinematography optical company True Lens Services (TLS) has made the big move from the building it occupied for nearly 20 years to newly converted premises. 

The new facility will allow True Lens Service to take on new projects 

TLS is a leader in the servicing, repair and testing of lenses for filmmaking, with services including re-housing vintage lenses and high specification calibration and prototyping. Up until this year that was carried out within a former industrial building consisting of two units in the Leicestershire village of Barwell. “But we outgrew both and had to find a new, bigger location,” says TLS operations director Stephen Lowe. His colleague, finance director Mark Durkin, adds that the move was necessary to meet an increase in TLS’s workload: “TLS has been space constrained for the last two to three years due to there being a lot of demand for our products and services.” 

The search for a new home began a year ago and was somewhat complicated because TLS needed not just the right sized spaces for its specialised operations but also somewhere not too far from Barwell. “Quite a lot of staff live within a five-mile radius of the company, so finding a building in the same village was key for us,” says Lowe. 

Maintaining the same staff was also a priority because TLS’s business relies on skilled manual craft work. Eventually new headquarters were found only a third of a mile away from the old premises. It is split into two sections, with a two-storey office space at the front and what was a lighting production facility at the back. 

True Lens Services work includes re-housing vintage lenses and high specification calibration and prototyping 

“The renovation started at the beginning of this year and took nearly four months,” Lowe says. “We’ve been able to lay out the rooms for each department with more separation. The workshop is at the back of the building, which means there is less risk of contamination from other areas. We’ve also had two projection rooms purpose built, which has doubled our capacity.” 

In addition to the projection rooms and workshop, the building also houses temperature-controlled areas for re-housing, servicing, repair and engraving/finishing, plus administration and sales offices. The workspaces have been fitted out with lens machinery and tools that are being used to manufacture new lens ranges, as well as existing lines. 

While TLS had been in the fortunate position of having high demand for products, the constraints on production capacity resulted in long lead times. Lowe explains that the new facility enables the company to both deal with orders more quickly and take on new projects: “There is a huge demand for the Canon FD lenses, the Mamiya 645s with the speed booster are very popular and we’ve recently released the Zeiss Super Speed re-housing, which has had enormous interest.” 

Maintaining the same staff was a priority for True Lens Service, given its reliance on skilled manual craft work 

To cope with the increase in production, four new staff have joined TLS in the last 12 months, although, comments Lowe, training can take six to 12 months.” We’ve now got sponsorship in place so we can bring people with experience into the country,” he says. “Our latest recruit is a lens technician who has come from Brazil to work for us.” 

Durkin adds that there is enough room in the new premises for further expansion, with the aim being to bring staff numbers up from 30 to around 40 by the end of this year or beginning of next. “It’s nice to have a new environment to bring people into,” he comments. “What’s good about the new space is that not only is there more room to work but also more room for relaxation, with a couple of kitchen-canteen areas where people can relax at lunchtime.” 

Which sounds as though TLS and its staff have found the right place to ensure the company’s continuing expansion for at least the next 20 years. 

True Lens Service’s new facility has made the big move to new revamped premises thanks to its success 

Words: Kevin Hilton 

This article was paid for by True Lens Services


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