Axiom Product Development


Axiom Product Development Ltd is an exciting new privately-owned company, which has recently acquired the trade and assets of FRH Technical Engineering Ltd, a successful machining, rapid prototyping and tooling business based in West Sussex.

Axiom has brought a depth of experience in the engineering sector to the company and has made a number of key strategic appointments to put in place a highly experienced management team with ambitious plans for expansion.

Frank R Hay founded the original FRH business in 1952 as a hand pattern making shop. The company remained a family business, for three generations with Frank’s grandson, Adrian Hay at the helm for the last 20 years.

Following the purchase, Axiom have kept the family connections strong with Tom Hay, great-grandson of the founder becoming a shareholder and Production Director of the new business.

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Axiom Product Development specialise in the design and manufacture of high quality tooling, patterns, components, manufacturing aids and jigs and fixtures for the automotive, motorsport, defence, aerospace and marine industries. Axiom provide a dynamic, quality assured, technically capable engineering service to its world class customers.

Five Formula 1 teams are on the Axiom/FRH books, making tooling for the cars’ carbon fibre bodies. Some of this tooling has been used to make the Haas F1 Team car; which of course, was made on Haas machines.

Since 1999 the company has been located in a new, purpose-built 1,200 sqm factory near Chichester, which houses 8 Haas high-speed machining centres and fully equipped toolmaking facility.

“Our first investment was a Haas VF-4,” explains Tom Hay, Production Director. “We took on an experienced machinist who was familiar with a range of machines, but recommended we buy Haas. We haven’t looked back since.”

The company currently has 10 employees, including CAD designers, high tech machinists and experts in prototype tooling. “We do all our own CAD modelling,” says Tom.

“We do a lot of work designing prototype tooling, which is then sent straight to the Haas control to make the part.”

The company’s most recent investment is a Haas VF-9 Vertical Machining Centre. The 2,134 x 1,016 x 762 mm capacity gives the flexibility to make full scale vehicle sized parts.

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Tom Hay (seen in photograph above) explains the difference the Haas machines have made to the business. “In the last six years we’ve added five spindles to the workshop. This has massively increased our capacity and significantly moved us forward in terms of the technology we have at our fingertips.

“We’ve also replaced some of our older machines with Haas. We find them very useable and their speed has made a huge difference, particularly with the Super Speed machines.”

Axiom’s five Haas super speed verticals are equipped with 15,000 rpm spindle, 24+1 side mount tool changers and high speed machining for extra fast cornering.

“Using the newer machines, along with our Vero software, has cut our large rough-cut cycle times from five hours to just 30 minutes, and one engraving job has gone from one hour to ten minutes. It’s an incredible difference.

“Maintenance is so much easier too, as the machines only have one type of lube and the cartridges last a long while. We spend less time maintaining and more time machining.”

“We keep buying Haas because they’ve proved to be accurate and reliable. The control is so simple to use it’s perfect for our apprentices too. Once you can run one machine you can run them all because the control is universal.”

“The service we receive has been excellent. We haven’t needed repair work on the newer machines, and the staff are very helpful and quick to come back to us to answer queries. The salesman and engineers are friendly and not too pushy as we have found elsewhere, and they have a real understanding of the industry; they seem to know our requirements better than we do.”

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It’s an exciting time for Axiom/FRH who recently welcomed Alan Rendle-Eames to the team as Managing Director and shareholder.

Alan has over 17 years’ experience in the machine engineering sector and was formerly the Project Manager leading a team of five designers at Formaplex, a specialist machining and composites company.

Alan previously spent 14 years at FRH Technical Engineering and is therefore the ideal person to oversee the running of the business.

Luke Newman has also joined the Axiom management team as Technical Director and shareholder. Luke is a qualified toolmaker with over a decade’s experience in the sector, most recently as Technical Sales Manager at Formaplex where he specialised in growing the F1, motorsport, automotive, defence, aerospace and energy sector accounts.

Axiom Product Development Ltd has been set up by Michael Last and Clive Johnson who are both experienced CEOs with complimentary backgrounds in finance, mergers and acquisitions, engineering and manufacturing.

Michael Last was CEO at Formaplex, a manufacturer of complex tooling and components, where he oversaw a period of successful growth and expansion. Michael has extensive experience across a broad range of technology driven businesses in multiple industries.

Clive Johnson, a mechanical engineer by training, has managed and grown a range of businesses from start-ups through to high-tech manufacturing businesses. Clive was CEO at Portsmouth based Magma Structures, builders of the tallest composite Superyachts masts in the world.

When asked about the future, Tom replies “It’s all about Haas. We have one non-Haas but compared to a Haas machine with the same bed size, it takes up twice the floor area. We found the Haas machines slot into place very easily, making the best use of available space.

“We’re delighted with our choice; every product is a reflection of the team behind it and Haas truly excels in all areas.”