A Rotherham engineering firm is targeting record sales after winning work making parts for British tanks and submarines.
Newburgh Precision moved into the defence sector after the collapse in the price of oil five years ago. But while the contracts have saved the firm, the security that comes with it has been an eye-opener, according to boss David Greenan.
Some staff were interviewed by the security services and all had to sign the Official Secrets Act under rules which include a ban on cameras or phones on the shopfloor, compulsory photo ID for visitors and “fully monitored” CCTV.
Clients – defence contractors, MoD officials and army and navy officers – can turn up unannounced at any time.
And a special, locked room at the factory on Bessemer Way is permanently reserved for one customer for private meetings, while designs for parts are carried to the machines by hand to reduce the risk of industrial espionage.
David, who is vice-chairman and has worked for Newburgh for 44 years, said they stuck rigidly to the rules because a breach could cost them all their defence work.
He said: “Business is excellent at the moment, we are growing not only in defence but other things as well including rail, oil and gas and general engineering.
“We are not back to where we were, but we are planning to grow.”
Newburgh Precision shed half its staff when the oil price crashed triggered a slump in the sector. The wider Newburgh Group – which includes pellet machine firm Sizer and Newburgh Estates – bailed it out while it diversified, Dave said.
The move paid off when it landed several defence contracts, followed by a seven-year deal with the Ministry of Defence last year.
Now they are predicting 15 per cent growth each year for the next five years. Turnover is set to double from £5m to a record £10m by 2023.
Newburgh employs 65, up from 52 at its lowest, and aims to recruit 10 this year. Last year it spent £550,000 on two new machines and plans to buy a third costing £700,000 later in 2018.
As well as submarine parts, it makes engine blocks for Challenger 2 tanks and Warrior armoured vehicles, and temporary bridges for the army which can be transported by lorry.
“Only a lack of people is holding us back,” David added.
The firm will have a stand at the Get Up To Speed engineering show for school pupils on Wednesday, April 18 at Magna.
“We’ll do anything to raise awareness to school kids and parents who, due to government brainwashing, need convincing not to send them to university.
“We say they could become apprentices, do an exciting job and get a degree with no debt.”
Newburgh is planning to take on up to four apprentices this year.
But the rest of the region’s manufacturing sector is growing too and will soon include factories for McLaren and Boeing.
Dave added: “Unfortunately other people are recruiting too.
“But it’s easier for us than a lot of companies, We’ve got a nice factory and pleasant working conditions.
“They are exciting times at the moment, we’ve secured a lot of work and we’ve got a lot of potential work, investing in machinery where we can.
“Engineering is a lot less hands-on than it was but we are more productive than we’ve ever been.”
made in sheffield at pinnacle of worldwide manufacturing says well travelled boss
“We’re proud to be in ‘Made in Sheffield’ even though we are in Rotherham.
“The heritage of manufacturing in the region is renowned worldwide and we like to do what we can to promote it as being the best.”
David Greenan, vice-chairman at engineering firm Newburgh Precision, speaks with authority after travelling the world on business.
He added: “We have facilities in this region that are as good as anything in Germany, the US or Japan. We are good at what we do. The UK is a major player.”
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