Wearside manufacturer Haskel is on course to grow its overseas sales and create jobs after securing a distribution contract in the lucrative Norwegian oil and gas market.
The Sunderland site, which specialises in designing and making components that can withstand pressures that are typically five to 10 times normal operating pressures, last year bolstered its export orders by 30%.
The business, which employs 62 people in the UK – 50 at its head office – distributes high pressure pumps, valves and package solutions for industries including defence, energy and oil and gas sectors in more than 50 countries.
It now exports just under 50% of its products – a figure it aims to increase to more than half during 2015.
The oil and gas sector now makes up 60% of the European site’s work and in addition to the domestic industry, there were strong orders from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The largest export growth was to the African market, where orders were up by 35% year-on-year, followed by a 30% jump in exports to Russia, despite a number of international trade embargoes due to the situation in Ukraine.
Caroline Farquhar, UK site manager and EMEA financial controller said: “One big contributor was taking over responsibility for a distributor in Norway from our US location.
“Our main focus now is improving lead times, particularly in our BuTech product range historically made at our location in Burbank, California.
“We started making BuTech products in Sunderland in the final quarter of 2014, and this year, we will be scheduling more parts to be made locally, improving efficiency and customer service.
“In addition our US parent company has made significant investment in new equipment to improve the lead times to customers which will be effective from the second quarter of this year,
“There is a lot of growth potential in Norway where in 2015 we will benefit from the first full year impact of the new distribution deal.
“We will also benefit from the new opportunities arising from the overall company reorganisation, which is putting the focus on customers and increased sales.
“Domestically, we are building three hydrogen refuelling stations for the UK which are likely to lead to further opportunities. If we get the volume, the next stage will hopefully be to create new jobs. First we have to turn opportunities into orders – which we’ve done with success during 2014.”
Mrs Farquhar was appointed as the Sunderland site manager in 2014 and is the first woman to hold the position. She takes over as head of the Sunderland site from Steve Learney, who has been promoted to global product manager for the high-pressure products product line of Accudyne’s Precision Flow Systems division.