ENGINEERING firm Houghton International has laid out plans to more than double the size of its Tyneside headquarters and create 40 jobs as it looks to grow its annual turnover by £2m to £5m.
The company, based in Walker, Newcastle, has taken on a 10,000sqft warehouse close to its current 15,000sqft site and, in the next 18 months, expects to invest in a second 10,000sqft facility.
The expansion follows a period of strong growth at home and abroad, which was extended last week with its first contract in Canada. The firm has employed an agent in Canada to help grow the North American market, and also has a man in Dubai to sniff out deals across the Gulf region.
Houghton’s new addition on Walker Riverside will double production of its rail traction motor repairs business, and also enable it to service Tyneside’s emerging renewable energy market.
Managing director Michael Mitten said: “We’ve had two record years of sales growth and our turnover is set to break the £3m mark this year, with aspirations to grow to £5m in the next two years.
“While we’re realistic about the current economy, we’re optimistic about our future as our board set a clear strategy some years ago to reduce our risk exposure to economic cycles.
“We’ve continued to grow steadily and our core strategy has seen us outperform other companies in our sector.”
Mr Mitten has just returned from a successful sales mission to Canada, where he helped to broker a deal to supply parts to a repair firm.
He now sees the Middle East and Canada – where the company has a pipeline of inquiries worth around £250,000 – as two potentially important regions for the firm in the future.
He said: “People in Canada were a little bit [reluctant to do business with us] because they didn’t know who we were. I’ve always had the philosophy that if you fly around the world to see someone, they sit up and take notice. They know that we want their business and that gives them confidence.”
Houghton was originally founded in 1984 in Houghton-le-Spring, moving to larger premises in South Shields in 1990 to accommodate an increase in both employees and orders, and moving to Walker Riverside in 1998.
Over the years, the company has gained over 400 customers and exports to over 20 countries, including Greece, Canada, the Middle East, Hong Kong, Nigeria, Norway and the USA.