How do you double turnover in a year? Diversify and specialise.
Specialist engineering company Prontoport have doubled their turnover and taken on a raft of new employees. David Hatfield, their Operations Manager, explains how the company has grown.
A bit about Prontoport’s recent growth
2014 has been an excellent year so far for Prontoport. We’ve doubled our turnover from last year, and we're forecast to more than double the workforce, too. At the start of the year we had 28 people on our books, now we have close to 40, and it looks like we’ll be up to 80 before the calendar year is out. The extra people we’ve taken on are all specialists in electrical and mechanical engineering, covering sectors like renewables and oil and gas.
So how have we sparked this growth, and how are we going to sustain it? The most important thing has been diversifying the business, looking at new ways to make the most of our niche. Capitalising on our strategic locations in Irvine, Ayrshire and St Helens, Merseyside, we’ve broadened the range of services we offer, creating two new units (one in condition monitoring, one in rope access), and we’ve brought training in-house. We’ve also begun to offer training courses to people outside the business, and we’re planning to establish a training centre of our own.
Our new condition monitoring unit covers vibration analysis, laser alignment, and oil sampling and analysis – and we’ve hired some of the best people in these areas. For our new rope access unit, we’ve recruited technicians that are skilled in Blade inspection and repair, NDT, painting, blasting, and rigging.
Bringing training in-house has been the other significant step that has allowed the company to grow. We now offer courses in everything from first aid and fire awareness to sea survival and working at heights – everything that a turbine technician needs to help them up the career ladder (and the turbine’s one, too.)
Responding to the success of and demand for our training courses, we’re in the process of establishing a full-time training centre at our new purpose-built facility in Irvine. This is all part of our long-term plan to train the turbine technicians that will power the future - and who better to conduct these courses than a company that already specialises in turbine engineering?
And how Scottish Enterprise has helped
We've benefited greatly from the support of Scottish Enterprise and North Ayrshire Council. Our account manager has worked closely with us, particularly in areas like our business strategy, marketing, business improvement and organisational development. The latter has included a funding grant to help make our recruitment and training plans a reality.
And what about our plans for the future? We’re looking into acquiring new property, securing an RSA grant, refining our IT, and expanding into new markets – both at home and abroad. That’s quite enough to be getting on with!
Prontoport received support from Scottish Enterprise through Regional Selective Assistance