A combination of property development and investment, and good old fashioned metal bashing have been the source of wealth for Constantine Folkes, who can trace his company back to 1697.

Constantine Folkes – the 91 per cent owner of Folkes Holdings – is a descendant of the Lye blacksmith who began the business more than 300 years ago.

Folkes Holding’s main business is now developing and investing in industrial, office and residential property.

The company’s extensive portfolio includes property in Wellingborough, Birmingham, Tamworth and throughout the Black Country as well as Studley Point in Birmingham Road Studley – one of the most prominent office buildings in the area. The company also invests in retail and commercial property in South Africa.

Its roots are in engineering and Folkes Holdings, based in Dudley Road, Lye, includes Somers Forge in Halesowen, making crankshafts for the marine, power, oil, aerospace and defence industries. It is one of the largest open die forges in Europe. There are also two heat treatment plants, Controlled Heat Treatment which has been operating in Lye since 1946, and Express Heat Treatment in Cradley Heath. The businesses do well, against the trend of many similar manufacturing operations.

The company also has a successful building company – William Williams – in Bridgnorth, Shrospshire.

Constantine Folkes, aged 56, took over the helm of the family company in 1981 and remains chairman and chief executive. When taking over at the age of 28 he was youngest chairman of a quoted company. In 2002 he took the company private, and it is now worth around £60 million.