Metalis Energy grows headcount after trebling sales target to make £6m

The Ashington firm has seen calls for its components soar overseas, also helping to grow the workforce as it seeks to meet the demand.

Paul McCreton of Metalis in Ashington
Paul McCreton of Metalis in Ashington

A Northumberland oilfield engineering manufacturing company has almost doubled its workforce after trebling its original first year turnover target, making £6m is sales.

Metalis Energy, based in Ashington, was set in motion in August 2013 to specialise in high pressure pipeline and wellhead components for the global oil and gas sector.

Engineer Paul McCreton, who started his career in mechanical engineering at 16, established the business with just three employees, thanks to funding from Northumberland Arch’s Business Growth Programme, which gave him a £125,000 grant for a CNC (computer numerical control) machining centre for his factory.

The headcount figure swiftly grew by a further 10 when demand for its products took off overseas – and he now has 18 employees.

Mr McCreton said turnover in finalised accounts is set to £6m for the year ended March, and the firm is off to a flying start this financial year with sales of £6m going forward.

He said: “It’s a magic number for us. We originally targeted £2m and that was optimistic.

“Just over a year ago our unit in Ashington was virtually empty, but we now have 18 members of staff, and that exceeds the target of having a workforce of 15 by the end of the first year.”

What the firm has made in profits is also being ploughed back into the business, to create a new product range, and the firm has invested in new people, new machinery and the development of new products.

Metalis has also taken advantage of support available from UKTI, putting in place a working capital loan facility, available to businesses which export more than 60%. The business now exports more than 90% to South East Asia and sells to clients in shipyards and construction in South East Asia, South Korea, Russia and China

“We’re a very small company in a big global market.

“The work we have done with UKTI shows incentives are available – there is some paperwork to navigate but if we have not done that we would have had to put the brakes on and turn business away.

Mr McCreton also detailed how capital investments had been made in new machinery to manufacture the products.

“When the first one came I thought ‘how am I going to feed this beast?’,” he said.

“But within three months it was running non-stop every day of the year.

“Some of the work was being outsourced to a contractor so we got a second machine, and we could have done with it six months ago really.”

He also believes the recent oil price crisis has given the firm time to consolidate and focus on creating new products.

He said: “The industry was going through a real boom time but we’re at the tail end of that now, and oil and gas is going into a correction period, which has given us time to take a breather and space to do research and development.

“I know the oil and gas market is a bit uncertain but it’s a cyclic industry and I’m sure this is just a blip. It has just given us a bit of slack to develop new products and to add to the portfolio.

“Through investment, we’ve basically honed one or two products and demand has gone through the ceiling for our products.

“The market has changed but it’s exciting for us, and the portfolio will increase in terms of adding new products, so we will be able to get a better market share.

“Getting to £6m is enormous for us and looking ahead I would like to think we would be doubling what we do, quite comfortably.”

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