This St Helens firm is in the rarefied business of testing the purity of precious and base metals for mining companies, metal processors and commodity traders. Nearly half its sales come from providing commercial assays, or validations, for buyers and sellers of metals and from acting as an arbitrator in disputes. The company also provides dockside weighing and sampling services, with operations in some 30 countries. Still owned outright by the Knight family, the 127-year old firm has raised its profits 57% a year, from £967,000 in 2004 to £3.8m in 2007.
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