A Sunderland company that specialises in equipment for the disabled has set its sights on quadrupling turnover after beginning to manufacture its own products.
Since Lynch Healthcare was established five years ago, it has focused on sourcing and distributing everything from hoists to specialist bathing accessories. After investing £20,000 on manufacturing equipment, however, the firm is now producing a range of patient slings, designed for tasks such as helping lift disabled people from their beds.
The aim is now to grow annual turnover from just under £1m to between £3.5m and £4m within five years.
The company, which has plans for other new products, also intends to take on more staff and, if demand grows rapidly, a new manufacturing facility could be created.
Founder and managing director David Lynch, who has worked in the healthcare industry for 14 years, said: “I have always had a personal desire to manufacture our own products and create our own brand, but there are also commercial reasons for this in terms of growing the business.
“We needed to stretch ourselves beyond direct sales in the North East.
“We looked at subcontracting for the product, but in the end bit the bullet and decided to go for it ourselves.
“We only launched it two weeks ago, but we’re confident it will open more avenues for us.”
The firm, named Durham & Wearside newcomer of the year in the North East Business Awards 2010, is now looking to create a dealernetwork for the products across the UK.
Representatives will also be attending a number of trade shows in Germany and elsewhere, with a view to exporting.
The move represents the latest stage in the growth of Lynch Healthcare, which began with only two people and a first year turnover of around £260,000.
Public sector contracts used to account for around 90% of the firm’s work.
Now, however, the split is around 70/30 between public and private.
The company, which received funding support from NEL Fund Managers, now employs 12 members of staff and, in the last six months, has won two major long-term contracts, worth around £1m, with Sunderland City Council and South Tyneside Council.
Two new members of staff were taken on solely to help manufacture the new products, known as David Lynch Tailored Slings, for which extensive, rigorous testing took place before commercialisation.
Initial orders have come from the NHS, but the growth of private therapy companies is also expected to generate a new market for the high-end product, which has already been well-received by the industry.
“We’re starting to recruit for more machinists, but we’re finding that hard as there aren’t too many skilled individuals left here,” Lynch added.
“There are only a handful of people and they tend to be either working for someone or retired.
“We’ve currently got two apprentices, who will be crucial for our long-term strategy for the business.
“Apprenticeships are the only way of moving forward – businesses need to invest in training people to give them the required skillset.”