Tyneside manufacturer Entek International Ltd has announced a £10m investment in a new generation of battery separator for the automotive industry.
The Killingworth-based firm, which has been in business for 25 years and is the only manufacturer of its kind in the UK, currently has 130 staff working at its Camperdown Industrial Estate base and another 305 staff worldwide.
The North East business has already achieved around £50m in sales, up from £47m in 2010, is US-owned and has a sister plant in Oregon. Plant manager Neil Craggs says the future is “very bright” for the firm as it heads towards global growth.
An initial £2.5m worth of machinery, which forms the first phase of developments at Entek, has now been installed with the rest scheduled for completion within 18 months.
Over 600 delegates from across the world will get to see the new product when it is unveiled at the 14th European Lead Battery Conference in Edinburgh this September.
The business has achieved rapid growth since it was established as a lead-acid battery separator company by founders James Young and Pete Johnson in Lebanon, Oregon in 1984.
With plants both here and across the pond, Entek exports 100% of everything it produces worldwide from its production lines which run on a 24/7 basis.
Lines continually mix and extrude materials into continuous polyethylene sheets, which are then subjected to specialised process treatments. President and CEO, Larry Keith spoke to The Journal during his recent visit to the Killingworth plant.He said the firm’s success was down to its people. He said: “We export everything we produce worldwide to countries such as China, India, Brazil, Russia, Poland, Germany and Spain and we need to be at the market at the right time with our new product, which I believe we will be, thanks to the R&D work that we have been doing. It’s also very important for us as a company to invest in our existing staff as well as taking on new recruits.”
Killingworth plant manager Neil Craggs added: “Since Larry’s visit, the staff have been really enthused about the ongoing developments and the plant is really buzzing.”
Four years ago, the firm invested £25m in two new production lines at the Killingworth plant. In 2012 the team were recognised at the UK Best Factory Awards, with the Best Process Plant, Best Energy & Environment, and Best People Management awards, along with being Highly Commended in the SME category
Later at The Manufacturer awards, the firm also took away the Innovation & Design award. Prior to this, the business achieved two Queens Awards for Export and International Trade.