Newcastle computer company Cavtec Systems has almost doubled turnover in a year after winning a £5m contract to supply hardware to thousands of ships all over the world.
The family-run firm, established 24 years ago this week, supplies computer systems, networks and support services to a range of clients and it has now secured a deal that is estimated to grow turnover to £2m next year, while also creating three new jobs at the 10-strong business with possibly more to follow.
The Cavtec workforce includes managing director Ray Cave, two of his sons, a brother and daughter-in-law and the team is now working with Videotel Maritime International Ltd, a global business which produces maritime safety training materials and software which are used on thousands of vessels around the world.
Videotel have enlisted the Kenton Bank Foot business to manufacture, test, set up and send out replacement systems for 10,000 ships that use their training packages – a deal which will see three new technicians join the company this year and take four years to complete.
Sales have grown from £450,000 in 2012 to £820,000 last year as a direct result of the contract win, which was very nearly missed.
Managing director Ray Cave said an email requesting information was initially overlooked as potential spam, but contact was eventually made with Videotel who were very impressed with the small business, which also runs a branch in East Grinstead, near London.
“In February of last year a request for information came in, but some of these can be scams where people want products to try and pay later, so my co-director wanted to delete it,” said Cave.
“I could have lost it, but you do have to be careful with emails. We made contact and Videotel are a very well-established firm with offices around the world.
“They looked at our prices and wanted to come and see us. I panicked a bit because we are just a little office in Kenton Bank Foot, but they liked what they saw.
“We did a trial run from September to November making up 150 machines – kits with PCs, screens and ether cables. We can also support all the systems which was a key factor also.
“The CEO Nigel Cleave visited us after that production run and seemed to be very impressed with our set up and our ethos in which staff look after clients in a one-to-one manner, and we were awarded the contract.”
The team of technicians is making up 200 kits a month and sending them to destinations all over the world, including Hong Kong and Singapore, and it is estimated it will take four years to replace each computer system – between one and four – on each of the 10,000 vessels they are supplying.
Cave continued: “By the time the contract is up they may need replacing again and at the moment it accounts for a third of all business.
“It’s the biggest one-off contract we have had.
“We’ve already taken on one new technician, we’ll probably take on two more soon and possibly more in the future.
“Turnover could well reach £2m next year. However, we are being careful to spread our business and not put all our eggs in one basket in case this contract disappears.”