Member News - Tees Chemical Company’s £1m Investment wins steel support

A technology-driven chemical company, demonstrating how the region’s small and medium sized businesses are driving the North’s economy forward, is planning to invest £1m over the next year.

Exwold Technology, which operates from three sites in Hartlepool and Billingham has secured a £250,000 investment from UK Steel Enterprise, the Corus-subsidiary that supports businesses in steel areas to support its plans.  The good news for Teesside comes on the heels of a recent gloomy survey that declared parts of the area were the “least resilient” in the UK to economic shocks.

Exwold is investing in new roll compaction technology and a new stock control system, creating six new jobs immediately and a further 6 to 8 over the next 12 months.  The company  expects to double sales over the next two to three years, taking the £5m turnover to £10m but quadrupling its profitability. 

Set up in 1992, Exwold began processing chemicals into granular form for the agricultural sector providing many benefits such as safer, cleaner handling, improved shelf life and flow properties.   It has since moved into other sectors including flame retardants, surface coatings, biocides and metal treatments.  

Exwold, which currently has a workforce of 60, merged with a London-based company in 2006, extending its range of processing methods and it now processes more than 100 chemical products. Its continuing technological advances bring new customers from all over Europe with multi-national companies such as DowAgroSciences, Chemtura, ISK, Novartis and BASF making up around half of its 50-strong client base.  

“We doubled our profits through 2009 which was a tough year economically and are still growing,” said founder James Robson, Business Development and Finance Director. “We now have a high level of expertise in a niche speciality market with 70% of our revenues generated abroad. We believe that SMEs like Exwold are key to the North East’s future as a manufacturing base.”

A re-structuring sees Kevin Martin taking over as Managing Director this month and Exwold is currently recruiting new executive commercial and manufacturing directors.

“We started in the last recession and are now working our way successfully through this one,” said James Robson.   “We are looking to stay ahead of the competition by moving into countries such as Brazil – the biggest agrochemical market in the world with no-one providing the specialist services that we offer.

“This investment from UK Steel Enterprise is very important to us not only financially but also because it demonstrates a real confidence in the company at a time when it is difficult to raise finance.   It is fair to say that our bank has been more supportive because of UKSE’s involvement.”

Simon Hamilton, Regional Manager of Corus-subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise said: “We first backed Exwold Technology with a small unsecured loan when the company was in its infancy and are now very happy to make this investment of £250,000.  Our bottom line is about regeneration in steel areas, not purely profit, so we can often be more flexible than other funders. Exwold has a strong and experienced management team and we foresee even more exciting times ahead for the company.” 

Details of UK Steel Enterprise’s support for business is available from 01642 777 777 and at http://www.uksteelenterprise.co.uk/. Exwold Technology is on 01429 230340 and at http://www.exwold.com..