A NORTH East company that provides testing services to firms in the offshore, defence and nuclear industry plans to grow its turnover from £1m to £5m after investing in new kit.
Argos Inspection Company said it was set to move into the new unit at its base in Washington following a £500,000 investment, which will allow it to increase the size of its client base and work on larger products.
The new facility is the largest hi-tech radiation exposure facility in the country and will see it speed up the rate at which the firm carries out its tests from 20 hours to four hours.
The firm, which was set up more than 30 years ago, uses electrically generated X-rays and gamma rays to check if products, such as pipework, are damaged.
The facility, which is the firm’s fourth exposure bay, will allow it to increase the size of the products on which it carries out tests, rather than send much of its work to testing facilities in the Midlands.
The company believes the investment will see it double its £1m turnover by next year, before growing this to £5m over the next four years.
It is also looking to add to its team of 12 technicians at the site and said that it was hoping to bring on two apprentices over the next few months.
Managing director Peter Bauckham said: “We expect to attract a lot of new work through the new facility, particularly as it allows us to carry out tests on much larger products. We now hope to double our sales by next year, then work towards the £5m. We provide a very specialist service that is becoming more and more in demand as engineers use lighter and more specialist materials.”
The company, which received a £50,000 Grant for Business Investment from One North East to help towards the new facility, is backing new X-ray technology from Russia as part of its growth, and has already completed trials in the UK, France and Germany for a number of clients.
The Magnetic Tomography Method (MTM) technology can detect pipework up to 15 metres under ground and determine whether it is damaged and even how long it has left before corrosion kicks in.
Argos Inspection, which has two workers based at McNulty Offshore in South Shields, said it would look at the possibility of extending its facilities further as its workload increases.
Bauckham is now looking to build up his workforce with the help of the apprenticeship programme and is currently training up three apprenticeships at present.
He said: “For us, apprenticeships have proved to be the perfect solution. The average age of our technicians is around 58, so it is vital that we are able to get new blood into this business.
“It is a great way of training youngsters from the ground up and ensuring that they don’t join us with any bad habits. We have been extremely impressed by our current apprentices and are keen to employ more.”
The Journal is heading up the 500 Apprentices in 100 Days campaign in association with the National Apprenticeship Service, supported by the North East Chamber of Commerce.
The campaign has broken its previous target of helping to create 100 apprentices in 100 days, with the total now standing at 268.