Logistics specialist AV Dawson has completed the last phase of a £12.5m masterplan that has enabled the Teesside business to grow its workforce by more than a third.
The three-phase plan includes a £2.6m intermodal rail terminal, which provides freight firms with a direct link to the East Coast Mainline, and a £3.4m deepwater quay which allows companies to kit out vessels and ship wind turbine components out to sea.
The Middlesbrough-based firm has now finalised its latest growth phase with the opening of its £6.5m automotive steel distribution centre.
The 102,263sqft centre will provide a base for steel producers such as Tata to store up to 58,000 tonnes of steel coil, which is used to supply the automotive sector, including car giant Nissan.
Previously Tata used three of Dawson’s sheds at its Riverside Park base in Middlesbrough but the new facility will allow the steel giant to store its products under one roof.
The steel distribution centre has also triggered growth at Dawson, which has added a further 62 people to its workforce, taking it to a total of 240.
And managing director Gary Dawson said further roles will be recruited into over the course of 2015.
He said: “This is the single largest investment in our 77-year history.
“We have every confidence in the steel industry and related industries, such as offshore renewables and waste to energy.
“Our business is doing well. We’ve been exporting more steel out of Teesside than we have done for the last 20 years. We’ve been running at capacity for the last five years; we’ve no more space to sell.
“We’re on course to reach £20m turnover this year and we’ll do this comfortably. We’re adding new management to our team and we will be recruiting throughout this year.”
The energy-efficient centre, which is conditioned by a ventilation system fed by ground source heat pumps, features a rail track running directly into it from Middlesbrough Goods Yard. Each year more than 270,000 tonnes of steel will arrive by rail from Tata’s Port Talbot operation in South Wales before being transported by road to Nissan’s Sunderland base.
Rishi Sunak, parliamentary candidate and prospective MP for Richmond, drove an O8 locomotive train into the centre and through a symbolic ribbon to mark the official opening. The locomotive was the same make as the one which was used to open the Ayrton Railhead in 1987.
Mr Sunak said: “SMEs like AV Dawson are the backbone of the economy. When people talk about creating the Northern economic powerhouse I tell them to come here.”
Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon, who is due to step down from his post in May, hailed Dawson for its contribution to the town’s economy.
He said: “Despite the challenges we are doing really well in heavier industries. We’re actually bucking the trend.
“If you want to see something real, something that’s making a difference, come here to AV Dawson.”