Engineering company Ford has capped 12 months of success at home and abroad by surpassing £11m of sales for the first time.
The South Shields firm saw revenues of £9m from UK contracts but more than half the £900,000 sales increase – which built on last year’s £10.1m turnover – came from expansion overseas.
Its exports jumped from £1.45m to £2m and bosses have now set a sales target of £15m within three years.
The company was founded in 1910 and only surpassed the £1m turnover mark in 1979. Chairman Geoff Ford expects the sales surge to lead to an increase in its 160-strong workforce who are based across three sites – two in South Tyneside and a recently-opened treatment and high-volume pressing plant in North Shields.
He said: “This is a tremendous achievement. Everyone in the company has played their part in ensuring this landmark figure was reached.
“We have an incredible highly skilled and committed workforce. They understand that the company’s success is also their success.
“In the past few years, we have not been afraid to target new markets and have implemented a strategy for overseas expansion which has reaped rewards. This is proof that we are thriving amid challenging market conditions.”
New posts are likely to come from production of a fresh range of parts, increased business with existing and new customers, and an expansion of operations at North Shields.
Production at Ford Aerospace’s base in Tyne Dock, South Shields, and at Monkton Business Park North, in Hebburn, is also being refined with all presswork from Ford Aerospace being moved and sub-contracted to Ford Components to allow the Tyne Dock site to concentrate on machining.
Ford and managing director Mark Podmore formulated a business plan three years ago, modernised production processes, improved staff training and eliminated waste in a bid to become more competitive.
New working methods were developed and a new operating system installed, significantly boosting individual staff performance and the company’s ability to compete on the world stage.
This has led to a drastic rise in productivity and efficiency levels, with production volumes also increasing by £100,000 a month.
Podmore set about researching and targeting overseas markets where the firm had identified gaps for its specialist products.
Trade missions to India and China – both significant world markets – and the development of a specialist export team, has led Ford to secure combined orders of £350,000 and inquiries totalling £2.5m.
It also aims to increase sales to Italy, Germany and France while continuing to progress in the Brazilian market, which boasts a huge aerospace industry and is home to Embraer, the world’s biggest manufacturer of executive jets.
Podmore said: “This all points to the company needing new staff with wider skills. We will go on a recruitment drive, as well as retraining the current workforce with a range of transferrable skills and encouraging those with great experience, who may be close to retirement, to stay with us. We have a sound base on which we intend to build.”