Electrical engineers Houghton International have invested more than £1.5m as part of a 10-year development programme, following 10% growth in the last year.
The Walker-based company pioneers technical and commercial innovation in the repair, maintenance and life extension of rotating electrical machines and last year carried out its largest project on behalf of the offshore oil and gas industry.
The project is expected to have increased Houghton International’s revenues by a third and the company is in discussions with other firms in relation to lucrative deals.
Managing director Michael Mitten confirmed the completion of a £1.5m investment programme to expand its operations into a new 12,000 sq ft manufacturing facility, giving the firm the ability to focus on developing staff and strategies.
After experiencing year-on-year growth of around 10% the Walker firm expects more growth in the coming 12 months, which will see them take on more staff, although numbers have yet to be decided.
Mitten said: “A lot has been happening. We invested £1.5m in our capacity capabilities, primarily in capital expenditure in kit, and the key message from our point of view is one of confidence – confidence we have got in the way of skills, in our product and level of services.
“We have invested very heavily in developing the people and culture and we are up for a CIPD award in recognition of what we do to develop people, and there are multiple strings to that, including the fact we currently have 12 apprentices out of a total workforce of 82.
“We have ploughed £1.5m into developing where we are going in the middle of a deep recession because we know we have got the people and our investments are for the next 10 years.The message from me is that we are setting the stall out for the long-term.”
Last year the company landed a series of orders for its high-voltage coil products from countries including Canada, Kuwait, Ireland and Singapore, and that international client base is expected to increase over the next four years.
The coil products were also displayed at a trade show in Florida, which generated £500,000 worth of business, and a number of rail operators also called on Houghton’s expertise to extend the life of their propulsion systems.
Over the years, the company has seen exports grow to more than 20 countries, including Greece, Canada, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Norway and the USA, but said growth slowed last year despite recent successes, mainly due to extreme caution shown by some overseas customers.
Mitten said: “There are piles of opportunity out there but it is still a difficult time and growth slowed last year, yet we still grew.
“People are cautious about what they are going to spend their money on and caution is really governing the speed of how things get repaired.
“For example, if you have a spare unit at a power station that is ticking over, you may not want to get the spare repaired and previously you would have been happy to get it repaired, so caution really is the word at the moment.
“We are certainly expecting double digit growth in the coming year so we have got to expand too by taking on new staff too.”